Healthy and Sane

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Time for a break! (+new giveaway winner announced)

November 16th, 2010 · 21 Comments · Uncategorized

Something has been bothering me lately and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it… and then it hit me today: I feel off about my blog. 😯 I have dozens of healthy recipes I’ve cooked and photographed; I have plenty of posts planned (in my head) on organics and sustainability, but for some reason I’m having a hard time being truly inspired… by myself. I often get emails about how much my blog means to a reader; how something I wrote about really resonated with her – and that’s really why I write at this point. I feel so passionate about so many topics that I really want to share it with the “world” and hope that it makes an impact. BUT – I’m overworked, stressed out and just exhausted and I feel like these things have impacted the blog. I’m still struggling with my weight which so often affects my mood and just leaves me with no desire to be “inspirational.” Even going to the gym is sometimes a struggle and that’s one of my favorite hobbies! I know my honesty is something you’ve appreciated but sometimes I just don’t have much to give.

SO – I’m taking a break until December 1. It’s only 2 weeks and I hope to regroup and come back even stronger. You can still follow me on twitter and Facebook and I will continue blogging twice a week at Russian Bites. Hope you say hi over there; otherwise please check back in December! See you soon!! 😀

PS – Since the last giveaway winner never got back to me, the new Keurig coffee giveaway winner is #98. Jenny, congrats! Please email me your address asap ( Ok, cya! :)

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Week 8 weigh-in: less pressure, more results

November 15th, 2010 · 20 Comments · weigh-in recaps

This week’s weigh-in recap comes a little late since I started weighing myself on Thursday mornings (to coincide with Thursday Weight Watchers meetings I recently switched to)… on Thursday though I decided that it was time to write my Whole Body post, and then the weekend’s frenzy further prevented me from finally sitting down in front of my computer. Anyways, enough excuses. I wanted to write this because I find it therapeutic to summarize the week’s lessons learned. And I know some of you find these posts helpful as well as you go through your own weight loss journey (and some of you are just here to support me… but you can’t do that if I don’t tell you how it’s going of course!).

So yeah, last week was interesting with the Foodbuzz Festival smack in the middle of it – 3 days centered all around food, and then there is the whole traveling thing which always seems to make my appetite out of whack. Another little curve-ball: I get crazy stressed out right before going away on vacation, no matter how short. There always seem to be a million things that just must get done with very little time to accomplish them in. Stress = food, but I survived.

The Foodbuzz Festival was all about food but I think my days of all-or-nothing are behind me. I didn’t feel the need to binge all weekend. I enjoyed a lot of food – yes more than I normally would – but I kept up my workout routine (lifted twice while in San Francisco, whoohoo) and while the foods were more indulgent, I honestly didn’t eat too much past the fullness point. Everyone kept on talking about how stuffed they were and I concluded that they either don’t eat very much normally or they chose to engage in the extreme behaviors or “eat until the point of sickness” that I had no interest in. I actually felt completely fine about how I handled the whole weekend.

In general, this whole week I felt a lot more relaxed about the whole “losing weight” thing. That’s not to say I’m not motivated to do so (I still continue to discover things in my closet that no longer fit, and believe me, it’s frustrating!), but I feel like it’s just a matter of time and that I will get there. Slowly by surely. I think it’s attributable to 2 things – under my new program, I’m supposed to eat more and I’m encouraged to lift weights no more than 3 times a week (2 is ok too but 3 is ideal) with certain other exercise (like yoga, spin, short intervals, kickboxing) being completely optional (and in fact prohibited if they prevent full recovery) and extra rest days mandatory. This has resulted in a lot less pressure over my own expectations. I’m still scheduling 5 workouts a week but when inevitably things come up, I move on instead of beating myself and overeating. The higher calorie allowance is ensuring that my semi-intuitive eating approach can be completely utilized (I never have the calorie limit dictating that I can’t have something) and that makes other days, days when I’m eating out with Adam, my family or friends, more guiltless than ever (although I really haven’t felt guilty over truly enjoying a meal in a long time). I know all of will just balance out!

Other lessons learned this week:

  • Upon return from vacation, immediately plan meals and go grocery shopping! I let rain deter me from doing so which definitely made for less than stellar eating for the first few days. Plus, I love organization and not knowing what my next meal will look like, definitely added to unnecessary stress.
  • I must bring yoga back into my life. I went to a super beginner class on Saturday, and while I was craving more challenge, I was still reminded of the amazing mental benefit of yoga. I’m going to try to add a weekly practice every weekend!
  • Low expectations leave room for exceeding them. That’s better than high expectations that I consistently fail to achieve.

So…. weight last Thursday: 156.0 (week prior: 156.2). I’ll take it… for now!

My message to myself this week: think about how you’re going to feel about your action a few minutes from now, a few hours from now, a few days from now. Then weigh the pros and cons and make every decision mindfully.

Did you learn any lessons this week?

PS – The winner of the Keurig coffee maker giveaway did not send me her email. I will randomly choose another winner if I don’t hear back from Heather by my next post!

PPS – If you haven’t already, check out my post about olad’yi (Russian pancakes) on Russian Bites. :)

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Whole Body natural beauty products

November 12th, 2010 · 19 Comments · product reviews

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Whole Body showcase event at the Whole Foods’ offices in Cambridge. In one of the conference rooms, they set up a bar with lots of food from their holiday menu (think arancini, meatballs, dips and crackers) and a few sustainable wines. I was too busy chatting with all the suppliers, though. There weren’t too many guests in attendance so I had a chance to speak to almost every one (there were maybe a dozen) and really learn about each product. It was so fun!! Skin is the body’s largest organ, so I truly believe that not only what we put into our bodies but also what we put on our bodies is important. Our pores absorb all the chemicals and junk in conventional products and as I cleaned up my diet over the past few years, I’ve started to work towards cleaning up my beauty routine. I knew I’d learn a lot by attending and I wanted to share with you some of the products I encountered and my general take-aways.

**Quick note: this post is long but I learned so much and I really want to share it with you! There may be future giveaways too so I’d love to hear your feedback on what you learn here and what else you’d like to learn about and I should be able to connect with these companies and provide you with answers (and products!) in future posts.**

A quick background on what I’ve been using up until right last week… I’m really into supporting small business owners, and as mentioned, also into cleaning up my beauty routine. I showed you some of my green beauty products before – since then I replaced those individual items with different brands (mostly purchased through etsy, online and some at Whole Foods) but didn’t introduce any new products into my life.

Side note: Beeocology sent me these hair products to review a while back and I haven’t been able to fit them in with past food posts so this is a good chance. All their products are all natural which was the draw for me. I’ve never found my hair to behave very differently based on shampoos or conditioners I use, which was the case here as well, but I guess it’s good to note that my hair didn’t miss any chemicals either. 😉

Changing my make up was the hardest thing for me. I’m a Trish McEvoy junkie because I love the sales girl at the closest department store. She’s really good – I love how she does my face and all the products look good and fit into a cute little case designed specifically for Trish products (yes, I fell for that!). Everything is crazy expensive and I don’t know what’s in the stuff but I know it’s not great. Yet I was scared to change anything.

Fast-forward to the Whole Body event…


The first product I learned about was MyChelle. All the products sold at Whole Foods are 100% natural and MyChelle is one of them.  I know some people complain about Whole Foods (mainly because it has a reputation for being really expensive) but say what you will – I love that I don’t really have to worry about quality and crazy artificial ingredients in my food… and my beauty products, if I purchase them there. I don’t want to take over this post about my love for Whole Foods but yeah, I’m a fan. No doubt about that.

From MyChelle’s pamphlet: “Many people feel if something is natural and nontoxic, it’s not strong enough to be effective. Others feel if a product is effective, it can’t possibly be natural. Natural ingredients are not only effective, they are often more effective than chemicals. The reality is that most manufacturers add chemicals to their products because they are cheaper than natural, more effective alternatives.” I think this summarizes so well the feelings that people get. I actually still use prescription acne medication and am really scared to stop because it’s worked for me. I wonder how my skin would react if I use more natural alternatives. It’s definitely something I’d like to eventually migrate to.

MyChelle has 7 different lines with 7 different skin focuses (normal skin, sun-damaged, sensitive, etc.) and there are dozens of products under each line. They have cleansers, toners, serums, sun treatments, etc. as well as cosmetics.

I got to play with a few masks and eye creams (just on my hand :) ) and they each felt really luxurious and smelled delicious.

The number of products can definitely be overwhelming. I got a tiny container of nearly every product and just going through the chart, trying to figure out what’s going to be good for my skin, took quite a while. The cool thing is that there probably really is something for everyone and you can put together a number of products that will work well together. I’m really looking forward to trying some of the masks I have!

Given the vast amount of products from MyChelle, I asked if they made a moisturizer with spf. I like products that serve double duty but the latest brand I tried (I admit, it was the very cheapest in the store!) I just wasn’t crazy about. The answer was “no” – they don’t make it and here is why: moisturizers should absorb deeply into your skin while spf should stay on its surface. So while it sounds like a good idea to combine the two, it actually doesn’t really make sense if you want them both to work their best. It makes complete sense and I was really happy to learn this! I have a sample of MyChelle’s spf and I need to finally try it (I’m so lazy when it comes to spf unless I’m on the beach!).


This is a brand new company founded by Luke right here in Cambridge, Mass. Luke learned about the benefits of organics for our bodies and the environment and found that there weren’t effective organic beauty products in the market. So he began the R&D process and founded LEAP Organics! (Fun fact: Luke went to school with John, one of the b.good founders. I’m a fan of both companies. I think they were drinking some good stuff in grad school 😉 )

In contrast to MyChelle, LEAP only has a few products, mostly differing in smells. He got all the basics covered though – soap, facial cleanser, toner, exfoliator and moisturizer).

Products are vegan, 100% plant based, USDA certified organic (except for 3 ingredients, like xanthan gum, which don’t exist in “organic” form)… and I can pronounce every single ingredient. Packaging is also recycled and recyclable + 3% of all sales is donated to non-profits focused on health and conservation of the environment. Good stuff! :mrgreen:

Luke believes that there is no need for hundreds of products, that if we just treat our skin right – it will balance itself. I can tell you that LEAP moisturizer (actually, and face wash) is the most amazing smelling beauty product ever! I was given the chance to take whatever I wanted (full sized bottles) and I actually took one of each. I couldn’t wait to get home and start using all of them! The toner is one thing that I never bothered with but Luke insisted that it made a difference so I’m trying to be more diligent. I haven’t had enough time to tell you about how my skin is reacting to the change but I can tell you that I want to drink the stuff every time I open the bottle. All the products are also really affordable!! So far I’m a big fan.


I wanted to really try the products I received so I didn’t want to take anything duplicative. Since I already grabbed all the basics from LEAP, I wanted to know what else I was missing – what else Skin Organics could offer that their competition didn’t. What I learned is that the founder Anne had severe cystic acne at a young age so the line offered a lot of products to deal with it. This really spoke to me since as I mentioned, I’m still really tied to my prescription stuff and luckily they worked well, so I think I may no longer need prescription strength things… and maybe it’s time to start exploring other, more natural alternatives. I got a few tiny samples but admittedly haven’t tried them yet. Of course one sample won’t help me decide whether it’s the right product for me. I’m going to bring this up with my dermatologist at my next appt!

I did grab this fun balancing mist. You can spray it over your face to set make up; it also refreshes your face and add vitamins to your skin. The cucumber sage smell is fantastic – really soft. I’ve been really enjoying this product so far!

SO – I was skin-cared out by this point – so I went to the table with FOOD!


Navitas is all about superfoods. Just from my quick visit by their table, I got to taste several foods I’ve heard of but never really tried such as goldenberries (in the trail mix below) and maca powder (made into a chocolaty avocado mousse). Each superfood packs a nutritional punch and all products are minimally processed and mostly organic. I snagged a bag of the trail mix and have been loving the mix of goldenberries, cocoa nibs and cashews (I still think that goji berries taste like paper… sorry).

I also received a fun make-your-own chocolate kit that I can’t wait to try. I think it would be a fun stocking stuffer if it works. I’ll let you know how it goes 😉 Navitas offers so many things, I wouldn’t even know where to start… camu powder? lucuma powder? mequite powder? pomegranate powder? The list goes on. What superfoods have you tried? How was your experience?


This is another company that focuses on the power of antioxidants. They are based in Maine and are the only organic elderberry syrup provider in the country. Anthoimmune is their flagship product which combines organic elderberries, organic elderflowers and organic wild Maine blueberries. They recommend a teaspoon a day every day, unless you are surrounded by sick people in which case a teaspoon 3 times a day is recommended to stay healthy. The stuff is supposed to strengthen your immune system and they say their customers really feel the difference.

For something that sounds very medicinal, the taste isn’t bad at all. It’s kind of a concentrated berry sweetness, and I’m certainly willing to become a little guinea pig and see if it prevents me from getting a cold or flu this winter. I received a complementary bottle and will be happy to report on whether I feel any changes in my body. :)

They also make this bee pollen which sounds a bit too voodoo for me but basically you’re supposed to eat a few little pollen balls and this should decrease any allergic reactions you may experience in the spring (I tasted it and it kind of tasted like nothing. Not scary but I don’t know if it’s worth investing in either since I don’t really suffer of any allergies).


This line carries reusable lunch bags and environmentally friendly containers. The lunch bag even includes reusable sandwich and snack baggies, which are easily dish washable. I LOVE the idea of this. I try to use washable containers for my lunch but still go through quite a few plastic baggies for snacks. I didn’t receive the lunch box at the event but actually ended up purchasing a few last weekend (haven’t used them yet but I’m excited to try them!). I think it’s a great idea to reduce the amount of trash we produce!!


I am in love with these t-shirts! Ever since learning more about sustainable clothing through Ecolissa, I have started to think more about where my clothes come from and how they’re made. These t-shirts are organic, super soft and they cost $10 at Whole Foods!!! I think that’s an amazing bargain. The representative went a little crazy and ended up giving me almost one of each color and I can tell you that they fit great and feel amazingly luxurious. I can hear my dad say: “You’re not eating your t-shirts. Stop with the organics!” But the way cotton is grown is impacting the environment and this really is a win-win (I mean, can you even get a t-shirt at the Gap for $10?).  They also donate a portion of their profits to charities. I love how dedicated all of these companies are to the health of our planet but also the people living in it! 😀

Make up time!!


As the name implies, the company specializes in mineral make-up. I don’t have much to say here except that I’ve been using their mascara for almost a year and absolutely love it. It’s the cheapest mascara Whole Foods carries and I think it’s perfect! If the rest of their products are as good (I received several complementary things that I have yet to try), they may have a very big fan very soon (since I will be switching from Trish!).


Again, all 100% natural make up. I was talked into getting my makeup done by one of the girls and really loved the results. The color pallet is very similar to the one of Trish (soft colors, smooth finish) and I received the slate eye shadow for free, which I have been using on a daily basis ever since. I love love love it. The stuff is about 20% cheaper than Trish and is all natural so that’s a no brainer. If only their stuff fit into my cute little Trish case… 😎

Last one!!


This was my last stop and we kind of rushed through it but it did sound like another great company.

I received a bottle of their peace soap, which apparently does pretty much everything. You can use it to clean you skin, veggies, countertop, dishes, clothes, etc. While it sounds a bit weird, I also really like the idea of being able to clean my kitchen with products I would be afraid to use on my face (or produce!!) so that speaks loudly of how natural the product really is (and it smells lemony – yum! :) ). 10% of profits from this product also support the Seeds of Peace foundation.

I grabbed a lip gloss from here too (yeah, this was really fun!!) – it has slight shimmer and is minty fresh. Love :)

I love that Whole Foods has brought together so many wonderful products that you can purchase while grocery shopping at below-department store prices. This event really reminded me of what a chicken I’ve been with regards to makeup and some specialty treatments. I believe wholeheartedly in natural products and I’m excited about introducing more of them into my life going forward!

Where do you buy your beauty products? What criteria do you have? Do you have any questions about any of the products in this post, or any other general natural beauty questions?

PS – let me know if you’re interested in me doing a follow up post on the changes on my skin after utilizing some of these products and moving towards a more natural beauty routine.

And with that, I’m going to bed! (This monster post took a lot longer to write than it was for you to read it. I promse! lol 😉 ]

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