Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Beauty Tips & Tricks Tuesday

I posted something a few weeks ago on a great way to exfoliate lips at home. This seems to be the time of year when more and more people pull out the chapstick/lip balm for dry lips, but did you know that sometimes it's doing more harm than good? There are tons of articles with reasons why chapstick isn't actually helping you which is why some people feel the need to constantly reapply. Next time your lips feel dry try the toothbrush exfoliating trick then applying plain old organic coconut oil, nothing fancy. It's soothing, smells good and has natural healing properties. Sometimes if I'm feeling a little dry from the weather I will slather on some coconut all after washing my face at night. It' feels amazing and is so good for your skin. (do some research if you have super oily skin or are prone to breakouts before trying)

Here's a quick article from the Today Show. Got chapped lips? Lip balm isn't the answer

And another from The Frugal Girls.
Click here for more info


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Beauty Tips & Tricks Tuesday

Since we're finally starting to get some actual Fall/Winter weather I thought today was the perfect day to share this.

I first learned about this trick back when I was in High School and I have been doing daily it ever since and I have never had chapped lips. If you wear our lip stains then this is a MUST DO before application, or if you simply want nice chap-free lips! I actually do it right after brushing my teeth in the shower so my skin is already soft and moist from the warm/hot water. Just make sure all of the toothpaste is rinsed from the brush, a few scrubbies and you're good to go! No need to spend money on expensive lip exfoliators! 

Check out this tip from Cosmo!
4. Make flaky lips smooth by applying a balm over your lips, and then exfoliating away any dead skin with a toothbrush.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Beauty and Rescue - NW Shibas4Life Fundraiser


Another fundraiser, how is this so? Well in addition to selling quality, cruelty free makeup, being a Younique presenter allows me to give back in many ways and hosting fundraisers is one of them! Unlike the old days of home parties, I do pretty much everything online and that means I can have multiple fundraisers going at the same time.

If we're friends on FB then you know I absolutely ADORE puppies! (I refer to all dogs as puppies). About 7 years ago I stumbled across the Shiba Inu PuppyCam and have become completely enamored with the breed ever since. Not only have I watched some of the most adorable Shibas grow up, I've had the opportunity to meet and become friends with the people behind the PuppyCam and even meet and squish the last liter (E Team). I've also attended Shiba events and donated my crochet items to various Shiba fundraisers. I've met some amazing people and made great friends along the way. In 2014 I had the opportunity to meet Miss Jewel Inu, spokes dog for NW Shibas4Life and her human Denise aka Mama D at the annual Novato Shiba picnic. Denise is one of the most kindhearted people I've ever met and had the honor to call a friend. She and her husband have been rescuing and saving Shibas for over a decade. She treats each one as her own and gives them the treatment they need before moving on to a forever home, or in some cases they become permanent residents of of NWS4L so they can live out the rest of their days with the love they never received so that they can cross over the bridge knowing they were loved.

NWS4L is always doing such amazing work and giving so much to the pups. Since they are in Oregon I can't really visit and help out the way I wish I could, so hosting a fundraiser was the next best way for me to give back and help in my own way. This fundraiser allows me to combine two of my favorite things, makeup and Shibas! Can it get any better than that? Actually it can!

A few facts about Younique:
-We are a Cruelty Free company that means NO animal testing!
-There is a 14 Day "Love It" Guarantee - no questions asked
-A portion of every sale automatically goes towards the Younique Foundation which helps Sexually Abused Women
-The makeup is seriously awesome otherwise I wouldn't even bother with it (you know what a makeup snob I am)
So in reality, if you purchase through this fundraiser you are contributing to TWO (2) great causes. Tell me that doesn't get you in the feels just a little bit?

NW Shibas4Life is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization that operates with a small handful of active volunteers who juggle rescue around work and family. They are dedicated to rehabilitating abandoned, neglected, and/or abused Shiba Inus across the country focusing on Shibas in need of critical medical attention, rehabilitation, and managed care in a Sanctuary environment until Rainbow Bridge.

Please come join the event to see all the great products we have to offer. Add some goodies to your beauty arsenal, start your Christmas/holiday shopping early and help Shibas at the same time! From September 15 through September 25th I will be donating 100% of my commissions from this fundraiser to NW Shibas4Life.

Click here to join the event on FB

Click here to shop the fundraiser

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bella Beat Cancer! Childhood Cancer Awareness Fundraiser!

For those wondering about the current fundraiser I'm hosting here's why.

In 2011 my niece, Olivia aka Miss FartyPants aka O, was born. I had just learned to knit and my sister suddenly had this list of things she wanted me to make. In 2012 my sister Melissa was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma, Miss FartyPants was only 9 months old. By this point I had already been cancer free for over 8 years, and I was lucky and didn't have to undergo chemo. My sister did. Watching my sister's health decline for months prior to being properly diagnosed was hard. Once she was diagnosed I started looking into making chemo caps because I knew the inevitable would happen. Somehow in my research I came across pages of little kids with cancer, little kids my niece's age. And while O was perfectly healthy, being around her and then seeing and reading about little girls her same age fighting for their lives really hit me. That's when I decided to make the Princess Olivia hat. Nothing extraordinary, but a fun little hat with braids for little girls that had lost their hair due to chemo. And of course for any little girl who just wanted some braids. I sell the hats in my etsy store and for every hat purchased I donate 1 to a little girl battling cancer. It's my way of giving back and hopefully making a little girl smile and forget her illness even for just a minute.

Last year one of our friends ordered one of my hats for an 8 year old little girl who was battling a very rare form of cancer, that little girl was Bella! I had never met Bella or her family before, but because it truly is a small world I found out that Bella's dad was into old cars and hotrods and that's how they knew my friend Teri and it just so happened that Bella's dad Ken had been following our magazine page on IG. In usual social media sharing fashion Teri tagged me in a picture of Bella wearing her Princess Olivia hat, and that's when Ken put 2 and 2 together and realized I was also "Mrs. AUTOCULT." I have yet to meet the Carvalho family in person, but because of social media I feel like know them, especially Bella. She's such a brave and amazingly talented little girl and I love getting to see her progress health wise and show off her talents and all that she does to help bring awareness to Childhood Cancer. I'm sure she has her bad days, who doesn't, but she has won this battle and cancer can't keep her down! 

Once I started selling Younique I realized not only was it a way to support my makeup habit and make a little extra cash on the side, but it was something that allows me the opportunity to give back. Knowing that Bella is a girl after my own heart I reached out to Ken and Belinda and let them know that I would like to have a fundraiser and donate my commissions to the hospital where Bella had received treatment or children's cancer center - her choice and that's when they mentioned ACCOIN.

Cancer does not discriminate, it is a horrible disease that unfortunately has touched the lives of my family and many friends. So this month, in honor of Bella and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month I have chosen to donate 100% of my commissions from this fundraiser to ACCOIN (American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest).

Friday, April 24, 2015

It's ON! The Ultimate Squat Circuit Challenge

Starting tomorrow, Saturday April 25th I am doing this! I just saw it posted on the BodyRockTV FB Page and the timing could not have been more perfect! 4,000 squats in 30 days. It sounds insane but it's doable. After having done other 30 Day leg/glute challenges that increase quicker and with less rest time, I know this can be done. It's only 120 squats by day 30, that's a piece of cake! So who's with me? I will be checking in here and on my FB timeline so if you want to make the commitment and take the challenge and need some motivation then let's do this!

All you have to do is 1) commit to doing the challenge EVERY DAY and 2) check in EVERY DAY. You can check-in on your own page or with me or both, but I know a lot of my friends don't like to post these things on their own wall, so I'm making it easy by giving you the opportunity to do the challenge but not having to advertise it to all your friends. You can post in response to my check ins (here of FB). Comment below or on my FB post (if we're friends) if you're in.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

MY 5 Fit Tips To Get my Fitness Back

I follow 30 Day Challenge Series on FB and last week she posted an article titled

5 Fit Tips To Getting Your Fitness Back, and after reading it it got me thinking that I need to not only do it, but put it out there. If we're FB friends then you have seen my fitness check-ins. You may be annoyed by them (I don't care), you may be inspired by them (glad I can help!), or you may be indifferent. Either way, if you pay even an inkling of attention, then you've noticed that they have kinda disappeared for a bit. And from past blogging experience while trying to lose weight, making the commitment to put it out there holds me accountable. 

The reason for the decreased FB posts has been a combination of frustration with my sudden halt in progress and another injury. You see, aside from dance I was never very active. I did yoga and dance, that was pretty much it. Occasionally I'd try the gym but it was never my thing so it didn't do much. It wasn't until about 3 or 4 years ago that I discovered the Jillian Michael's DVDs and began my love/hate relationship with her workouts. 

I love them because when I stick to them I totally see results and quickly and the majority of them are only 30 minutes. I hate them because she is an evil sadistic bitch that makes me want to reach through the TV and punch her in the throat, but I have no energy because I'm trying keep up with her results producing insanity so all I can do is yell obscenities at the TV while my fat cries and I practically drown from sweat dripping into my nose. I feel amazing and accomplished afterwards, but during those heinous 30 minutes I wonder at what point does someone just fall over and feign death from lack of oxygen or some weird muscle cramp? Once I stick with it and see results I feel awesome and want to do more, so after completing 30 Day Shred (I always start with this one because I'm convinced it's magic and I see results in 2 weeks), I move on to something a bit more challenging. And sure enough, without a doubt I always hurt myself. You name it, I've done it (at least it feels that way) and it's always from pushing myself too hard too soon because of course after 30 days hate combined with results I start feeling a little cocky and am sure I can do anything, regardless if it includes a muscle group that is totally weak or I didn't even know existed until I injure it. And every fucking time it happens I go to my PT and get it fixed and am told to take it easy for a few weeks. And during those few weeks I start to slip and the vicious cycle begins. 

The most recent injury is my neck/shoulder. After 5 months of feeling like a bad ass I decided I needed a heavier kettle bell (15lb) and it was time to start using the 5 and 10lb weights for everything (it's a lot when you have little to no arm strength so shut up!). I also decided to do another crazy 30 day challenge that was 30 push-ups EVERY day for 30 days. The problem was that I did feel a little pain but I convinced myself that it was due to weak muscles so I had to power through and build some semblance of muscle to strengthen the weak area, but really all I did was hurt myself and now the once weak area is probably even weaker. So between the push-ups and a harder Jillian DVD, heavier weights and my heavyass mufasa hair and sleeping funny and ignoring some pretty obvious signs, I managed to aggravate an OLD injury and now after over a month I'm still having issues using my left arm because the neck is responsible for so much more than just supporting my big head. 

And because of the limitation instead of just working on core and lower body like I'm sure any "normal" person would probably do, I've become frustrated and haven't done shit aside from continuing dance class, and I even have to take it easy there. I also started to notice a halt in my progress which caused more frustration. I was working out and dancing even more than last Fall and instead of shrinking more like I thought I should be, I stopped seeing any results. I racked my brain to figure out what I was doing wrong, and instead of stopping and really dissecting it I decided I needed to try and workout even more and push harder, and that's when my shoulder/neck really said "NO MORE!" And then my brain said "fuck it!" So I stopped the Jillian workouts thinking another squat challenge and dance would suffice while trying to fix my neck. Nothing, I felt the fatness coming back. My jeans were tight again and I got pissed and instead of binging/emotional eating like I know a lot of people do, I go the other way and cut back. I am an emotional NON-eater and that is equally bad for your body and made everything worse.

So as I sat on the couch feeling the fatness take over I decided to utilize the on-site nutritionist at work to do a metabolic analysis and check my body fat % to see WTF was going on. Sure enough she confirmed what I thought, but I'm the type of person that likes to see things in black and white and even though I had an idea of what was going wrong I needed someone else to reconfirm. I have basically screwed myself and undone all of my hard work. All the inches I had lost are back, the 3% body fat lost is back. My weight however, exactly the same. WTF?! That was the wake up call. I had lost inches and body fat from building muscle. And muscle takes up less room that fat but it DOES NOT weigh more. A pound is a pound is a pound, meaning 1 pound of feathers will weigh the same as 1 pound of bricks, but visually they take up different amounts of space, but they still weigh the same. 

A pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle, but the fat takes up more space. It spreads out like Jabba the Hutt, while muscle is more compact like Princess Leia (not the best comparison but it works for me). 

So while the scale never really budged in 5 months I had gotten smaller because of gaining muscle, and now all of that is gone and I am back to square 1. How did I do this you ask? Not eating enough, even though I was eating and attempting to track calories, I wasn't making up for all the calories I was burning during dance and home workouts. I was causing too much of a deficit and made my body go into starvation mode. So by not eating enough my body decided to hold on to everything and feed off the little muscle I had gained and suddenly the muffin top was back. 

So while all of my fitness gadgets (FitBit and Heart Rate Monitor) were telling me I was burning off hundreds of calories I wasn't making up for it with food to meet my minimum caloric intake. So on days that I would burn 1,000 calories at rehearsal but only eat 1600 calories, it wasn't enough. So here I am late April with 2 performances coming up and NO WHERE near where I had planned to be. Talk about frustration! So last week went back to using SparkPeople yet again and started tracking all my food as well as actually paying attention to what I was burning and trying my best to make up for it and not freak out on days I need to eat 2,000 or more calories. So far so good. I still haven't done any additional workouts aside from dance classes, but I figure I need to get a handle on the food and be okay with that first before jumping into more challenges or anything else. So after that long-ass diatribe I am going to utilize the above referenced article and list out MY 5 tips and get my ass in gear so that just MAYBE I'll get back on track and not feel so gross come May and I have to bear the mid-section on stage. 

Fit Tip #1. Define your motivation?

My motivation is appearance based. I want to lose a few pounds; 7-10, I want a smaller waist, some muscle tone, a flatter tummy and over all I want to feel good in a bathing suit and my dance costumes. Clothes hide a lot but those 2 things don't. 

Fit Tip # 2. Set small, short term goals. Not longer than 30 days.

I was doing this, but I was also mentally jumping ahead and after like 5 days I was trying to plan out the next 30. So starting April 25th it's going to be 30 days at a time until Tahiti. I'll start with 30 Day Shred again (minus arms) because I really am convinced it's magical and I'll pick no more than 2 30 Day challenges. And hopefully I'll lose an inch overall. The article mentions to decide on a reward. Really my reward will be looking and feeling better, I can't think of anything else right now. 

Fit Tip #3. Track your progress and results.

I need to make some sort of tracker. Aside from posting on FB and my HRM that tracks all workouts as long as I remember to wear it and turn on the app. I think I need another visual log that I can keep in front of me at all times. I used to have a weight one years ago when I was doing Weight Watchers. Maybe it's time to dig that up again, but instead of weight I'll log inches as well as literally check off days worked out. 

Fit Tip #4. Try something new.

My something new will simply be focusing on eating more so that I continue my progress and don't unintentionally starve myself. This also means more regular grocery shopping, actually planning out meals and cooking/prepping more meals in advance so on the nights I get home late we can eat dinner right away instead of wasting time trying to figure out what to eat. 

Fit Tip #5. Make it social.

The article suggests doing stuff with friends which doesn't really work for me, but I will make it social by blogging about it more and getting back to our "weekend walkabouts" instead of just sitting on the couch crocheting for hours on end (which is very productive but doesn't burn nearly the number of calories that I think it should) while we binge watch a new series. I'm going to make D commit to walking again too because it's no fun walking alone, and really who am I kidding, I won't go for a walk on my own. 

If you'd like to join me but aren't one to put all your business out there on FB please feel free to comment on my posts here. Different things work for different people, do what works for you and motivates you to keep you accountable. Just make sure you do it. And you can hold me accountable too, if you don't see something here or on FB then please ask me WTF is going on, I won't get mad, I need that kick in the ass sometimes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

11 Years Cancer Free!

If we have been friends for a while then you know that I rarely talk about being a cancer survivor. If we've become friends since last March then now you know something new about me. Every year on this day I post a little something about making it through another year cancer free. I was very fortunate and never had to undergo chemo or radiation. My cancer was caught early enough that I was able to have surgery to remove the cancer and it hadn't spread so I didn't need any further treatment. 

11 years ago today, March 12th, I had a Laparoscopic Radical TrachelectomyWhile the surgery removed the cancer and the lymph node removal showed that it hadn't spread, and I was told the next day (or maybe 2 days later) that I was officially "cancer free," I was not out of the woods. What was supposed to be a 4 hour surgery turned into a 7 hour surgery with many unforeseen complications that I still live with today.

If you have ever had surgery then you are familiar with the recovery room and process; you slowly wake up, slightly confused, and a little groggy. Or if you're like me and the video One by Metallica is permanently imprinted in your memory (it might seem overly dramatic but this was seriously my first thought, because I could not move, and I didn't have my glasses so I couldn't see either), you start to wiggle your toes, legs and arms to make sure all your parts move. Well aside from being hopped up on morphine and coming off all the anesthesia, I was still fairly lucid. Once I realized I needed my glasses to see I also realized that I couldn't move my legs. I could feel them but they did not move. Talk about a freak out. Of course I told the nurses and they assured me that it was just a residual affect from the anesthesia and the mobility would come back shortly. WRONG! Eventually my left leg was okay but my right leg never regained full mobility, in fact I couldn't move it from the knee down at all and it was cold. Needless to say I was pissed and scared, but that's when it dawned on me, I had just painted my toes the night before surgery because I knew I wouldn't be able to bend for weeks. Luckily I had chose one of those "mood changing" polishes; Toma Toma in a purple shade to be exact. 

You see the thing about those polishes wasn't about mood, but they in fact changed color based on body temperature. Cold caused the polish to become dark and opaque and heat or warmth caused the polish to become light and almost sheer. Luckily Dan knew this since I had shared this magical knowledge with him in the past and that's when I asked him to look at my toes! BAM that was all the proof we needed! My left leg and foot were regular warm and so those toes were a light lavender color and my right toes were completely dark purple and opaque. And since Dan was not on pain killers he was able to explain this to the doctors in a way that sounded way more sane that I did.  So after hours of complaining to every doctor and nurse and then our new scientific realization, they finally listened and after a few different tests, found that I had a blocked femoral artery.

Less than 24 hours after my initial surgery they had to perform emergency surgery to unblock the artery. Since I had just had major surgery they could not administer TPA. I remember the doctors were shocked that I even knew what that was, but like I said, I was still fairly lucid even with the drugs. Plus at the time I was working for the company that made TPA so it was fresh in my mind. I also remember telling them that just because I was on drugs didn't mean they could fuck with me and they better tell me what was going on and WHY they couldn't give me TPA. I've always had a potty mouth but pain meds seem to bring it out even more lol. I also remember laying on the gurney and telling them to stop hurting me because I had just had major surgery. You think I'm bossy now, imagine when I'm in major pain and on hardcore drugs. I think I even told one doctor that I didn't like him because he was too mean. I later found out he also happened to be one of the top surgeons in his field and the one who essentially saved my life. Good thing they are used to belligerent patients. 

Due to the circumstances and the urgency of everything they had to immediately put me out, cut me open and perform yet another major surgery. Of course not without more arguing over who would essentially sign the consent form since I wasn't able to do so myself. That's when I found out that "domestic partner" didn't mean shit, but the title of "fiance'" did. So after the surgeon flat out telling me that if I said Dan was my fiance then he could sign the consent form, otherwise the only other person at the hospital at midnight was my then 19 year old sister, who I love dearly, but I couldn't trust a 19 year old to sign for my life. So we lied and Dan went along with the lie that we were engaged (we did actually get engaged later that year). Another successful surgery but this time apparently I lost a lot of blood so when I woke up from that surgery I was connected to a shit load of tubes and I had a central line. Imagine my reaction when I woke up still unable to move my leg and had a tube sticking out of my neck. It was like a never ending house of horrors and it hadn't even been a full 2 days yet. 

The good thing is the clot was a complete fluke, because prior to surgery I was not at risk for a clot, but due to being in an inverted position for 7 hours, it happened. I've been to the vascular surgeon since and each time he says that he doesn't want to see me again till I'm 80. I'll take that as a good thing. 

So within 24 hours I had 2 major surgeries, got temporarily pretend engaged, became cancer free, had a blood transfusion, got 6 brand new scars and was unable to walk, not to mention the horrific amount of pain I was in. And technically, had I not bitched so much about not being able to move my leg I probably wouldn't be here today, but I try not to dwell on that part. 

And just when I thought that was the end of it I had more complications that lead to 3 more procedures, another major surgery 2 months later and 3 more scars, and still a gimp leg, oh and I almost forgot, permanent nerve damage in my right leg, aka my bad leg or my bandy leg.

I had to use a walker for a while, then I graduated to a cane and eventually moved on to a bit of a slow drag leg walk because I refused to let cancer win, because even though my leg had nothing to do with the cancer itself, it was because of the surgery to remove the cancer that all of this happened. At one point, after my last surgery I remember laying in my hospital bed talking to my oncologist, who was awesome and didn't mince words at all, and she told me very candidly that that I would be lucky to walk again, that I may never walk normal again (meaning without assistance or some kind of limp), to start looking at flats that I liked because I could forget about ever wearing heels again and that I wouldn't ever dance again. Talk about a crushing blow. Not only had I already been through hell and back, but when everything started I was teaching belly dance and of course wearing heels (only up to 3" back then) and simply living life. This was all supposed to be a somewhat simple 6 weeks off and then back to the grind. I had already quit my dance troupe but teaching kept me active and happy and still doing what I loved and there was no way in hell I was letting cancer take that away from me, not after everything I had been through. She may as well have punched me in my incision and broken my gimp leg at that point because aside from fighting to heal, there was no way in hell I was going to let her be right. I was too young, too stubborn, too strong and too determined to prove the doctors and statistics right. At this point the cancer was gone, I was cancer free dammit and if I beat that, then a little nerve damage wasn't going to get the best of me!

It took about a year before I could walk without visible signs of any disability, and maybe a year and a half before I stopped falling and hurting myself even more (well at least due to my bad leg), but eventually with the help of physical therapy and yoga and a chiropractor, my leg got stronger. I continued to see my army of doctors all the time and here we are 11 years later and I am still cancer free and wearing crazy ass 4"-6" heels and doing what I love most, DANCING! 

About 2 years after my surgery my oncologist moved back to Canada and I was passed on to another amazing oncologist who I saw at least 3 times a year for many years and finally a few years ago he told me that while my case was one of the most interesting he has ever been involved in and that they are still writing journals of everything that occurred and that he liked chatting and hearing good news, that he didn't want to see me again unless I was bored and wanted to stop in and say hi or if the cancer returned. That was probably the best news ever. About 3 years ago I saw another one of my surgeons for a follow up and he didn't even recognize me, until he saw the nails (apparently its one of my trademarks). He was shocked at how far I'd come and how good I looked which made me think 2 things; 1) how bad was I that he was so shocked, and 2) fuck yeah, I beat it all and here I am stronger than before and clearly looking pretty damn good after all these years and the hell I went through. 

Not a day goes by that there isn't a constant reminder of what I have been through; whether its the physical scars that I see every morning, 9 to be exact, the teal ribbon that I have tattooed on my forearm, trying to do something in dance class and my leg decides that it doesn't want to cooperate, when it's too cold out and my right calf and foot cramp up on me so bad that I can barely move or that I see my current physical therapist/acupuncturist on what seems to be a monthly basis because of some residual affect of my bandy leg and being unable to do anything for so long. And yes sometimes it sucks and I get angry but most of the time I try and remember how far I've come, that I proved all the doctors wrong and that I'm still here and healthy and my own best advocate and that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. 

And if for some reason you're wondering why I'm putting all this out there now, it's because it's about time. I've struggled for years to "put it on paper" in hopes to help another woman struggling with their diagnosis and while I did leave a lot out, at least it's a start. 

So fuck cancer, and ladies get your annual EVERY YEAR!!! Not every 2 or 3 years like some doctors tell you, but every single fucking year even if you have to pay out of pocket! One important thing I almost left out... Prior to the cancer diagnosis I had never had an abnormal PAP. I went to the gyno every year like clockwork and was always healthy and my life literally changed in 12 months. And I never had any symptoms. So while that may not be the norm, it can happen and it happened to me!