Category Archives: Wellness and Beauty

Tips on Healthy Eating: Replanting Your Tower Garden

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words so I’ve made this cute, little 6 minute video to walk you through replanting your Tower Garden.

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Giving Mothers the Gift of Peace

(This article originally appeared in YogiTimes Magazine – I just added all these groovy pictures)

One thing no one ever tells an expectant mother is the arrival of her beautiful, cooing little bundle of chub will be the departure of her private bathroom time, regular showers and any hope of an uninterrupted night of sleep. There might be a mother who escapes from this reality and we have a special name for her. Lucky.

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Always making lemonade out of lemons

The rest of us, however, have to find ways to keep our sanity between the coos and giggles. Agoura Hills yoga teacher, Drorit Rudin, had three kids within three years and four months of each other. She tried to take care of herself in between diaper changes and regularly attended gym classes though never really connected with the vibe there. Rudin said her life changed when she found a yoga class that embodied everything she was. “There were no shoes, no one was checking each other out, no competitiveness. There was a space created for peace.” Rudin says the peace she found on her yoga mat extended into her family life. “I was able to be more calm and my kids responded so much better.”

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Drorit Rudin found yoga and was able to find peace in chaos

Malibu resident, Torrie Simshauser, had a similar experience the first time she did yoga. “I could feel the difference at a cellular level,” she said. All the breathing and meditative nature of moving between the poses eased her anxiety, Simshauser said, and after nine months of daily practice, she decided to train to become a teacher. “I wanted to share all the benefits I was getting in classes that was extending outside my classes, like balance, stability and calmness with others.”

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Tore Simshauser strikes a pose in Malibu

Both yogini mommies can thank Sridhar Silberfein for their practice as he was one of the people responsible for bringing yoga to the United States. In the early 1970s, Silberfein opened the first yoga studio in Los Angeles in Topanga Canyon. He introduced Swami Satchidananda to the stage at Woodstock to deliver an invocation in front of 500,000 music fans. Overwhelmed by the largest gathering of people ever assembled in the United States, Silberfein promised the Swami that someday the same number would come together to chant the various names of God, practicing Kirtan, or sacred music.

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Woodstock was the largest gathering of people ever assembled in the United States

Forty years later, Silberfein created Bhakti Fest (which means love and compassion, a devotional opening up of the heart) in Joshua Tree where they do just that.

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Every year Sridhar Silberfein has video taped conversations with Ram Dass shown at the festivals he created

Bhakti Fest offers unlimited yoga taught by the top instructors in the world. Bhakti Fest also has sacred music and workshops where people learn the meaning behind the chants. From that, Shakti Fest was born which specifically celebrates the creative divine feminine. Shakti Fest features additional workshops like belly dancing and hula hoop, classes in tantric and Ayurvedic.

Silberfein, born to a Jewish family, wants to make clear that yoga isn’t a religion, it’s a way of life. “People start to practice and see the difference in their face and body and want more of that. They may decide to meditate five minutes a day. They may decide to eat cleaner.”

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Both festivals are Silberfein’s peaceful alternative to what he feels are the angst ridden rap and rock concerts that he says encourage personal destruction through the abuse of drugs, alcohol and relationships. Instead, he offers guests a healthy experience, free of any mind altering substances, based on the return to a youthful innocence which he says we lose at age 8 in response to the ego’s need to protect itself from the frantic nature of the world. “It’s very difficult to live in the world today,” Silberfein points out, “We need a daily practice that keeps us quiet in our minds, that keeps us centered from the hassle and frazzle of everyday life.”

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As a young mother, Rudin said, she was always worrying about specific things that might happen to her kids, things that were mostly beyond her control. “After yoga, I didn’t worry as much,” she said. Instead, she started every class by setting a positive intention of peace and happiness for each of her children. It spilled over into her life outside her yoga practice and she was able to feel that peace and happiness herself.

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Sometimes, Simhauser said, her kids will practice yoga with her. She wants for them to have the gift of calm that she found later in life. Silberfein says the Kid’s Village at Shakti Fest is designed to give children those very skills at an age where they could grow into them. There is music, dancing and puppets. They learn how to work with crystals and even get to take them home. They create gratitude flags to hang in their rooms. And maybe most importantly, they learn how to sit still for two to ten minutes, a skill most adults can probably use.They learn to center themselves in the face of life’s chaos.

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Shakti Fest brings together the most talented female yoga teachers and musical artists. There is a Woman’s Tent, closed to men, run by female elders who discuss sensitive topics specific to women’s struggles. “The idea is to empower the women,” said Silberfein. “They need to have their own space, which is closed to their husband and children. She can tell them it’ll make her a better mommy and wife.”

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Empowerment was something Rudin found eight years ago, when she woke up one morning and decided to open up her own yoga studio, now called Agoura Power of Yoga. “I wanted to practice the type of yoga that I loved,” Rudin said, “At the time the closest studio was in Calabasas, so I create my own.” Rudin said she gets texts, emails and cards from women thanking her for helping them to reconnect with their inner power.

o“In many relationships, women give up their power.” Silberfein said he disagrees with this. “We should be kissing their feet in gratitude for the things they do.”

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yes please

Shakti Fest donates a portion of their proceeds to an orphanage in India that is home to 18 girls. “We want to have a festival where we can give back to the people, so after we pay our expenses, that’s what we do.”

Shakti Fest begins its sixth year at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Joshua Tree, CA on May 13 and goes from 7am to 2am until May 16. For more information go to: http://shaktifest.bhaktifest.com/ Discounts are given to veterans, military, students and seniors.

 

 

Outside In

There’s a time in my life for which I should be very grateful. That’s what the doctors have told me every time they’ve heard the story and every time they’ve seen my scars. One doctor even said, had the accident happened 15 years earlier, I would be missing a leg for sure.

But I am old enough to know that what should be and what is are often very different.

When I first met my husband, I hid myself. He didn’t know what was beneath the clothes or behind the girl. Because it was a new relationship, in every moment I was reborn. I got to recreate myself in his eyes and through his eyes, I saw that I was pleasing.

As we strung the days we spent together into a happy little fantasy, there came the time he brought me home after a date and we were kissing on my couch. I had rehearsed the line in my head all day. Maybe even the day before, anticipating it’s inevitable arrival. As I felt his hands start to move beneath my shirt, I knew the moment had come. Instead of excitement, I felt dread. I stopped kissing and moved my head back a few inches, preparing to say the line. “Are you ok?” he asked.

“I have some scars,” I whispered, and waited into the moment. Preparing for rejection, a tentative drop of his hands and the space growing larger between our bodies. He didn’t say anything. I felt shame course through my heart. I felt his fingers lift my face and a wonder at the laugh I heard him make. “Um, yeah,” he said. “I figured you’d have some scars.”

Five years before that night, I had been in a motorcycle accident. It left me in the hospital for almost two months. I flat-lined twice and the doctors had told my parents to say goodbye because I wouldn’t survive the night. I had lost 90% of my blood, draining the hospital of its A+ blood supply through transfusion. I had a compound fracture in my left leg, a broken wrist and three broken ribs that had punctured my lungs, my heart and my liver. As a result, I also had a tracheotomy.

The tracheotomy scars were easy to fix. A plastic surgeon just snipped out the scar tissue and glued my skin together. You can’t tell it was there.

My insides healed too. But I was left with a wide, angry white scar down the middle of my torso from being held open by a surgical retractor.

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It divided me like a playing field, each side populated by opposing asymmetrical circles, like little players ready to charge each other. The plastic surgeon was worried that if he tried to make it look prettier by cutting the scar tissue out and reattaching it, I wouldn’t have enough skin left to have healthy kids.  He was afraid it wouldn’t stretch enough and their little brains wouldn’t have enough room to grow.  So even before motherhood, I was making sacrifices for the kids.

So, instead of prancing the Earth, throwing fairy dust into the air from the gratitude I felt for not only surviving this accident but also managing to thrive afterwards, I was instead engulfed in feelings of remorse and nostalgia for the times I was able to walk around in shorts, worry free (because now I also had two vicious round scars on my calf and shin from the bones popping out + a white stripe on my thigh from the skin they had to peel off to cover that mess). And I was never going to wear a bikini, I decided. No way was I going to expose my ugly middle to a world of judgmental, media scarred people. No way. It didn’t matter if I worked out all the time to look my best, a tankini was the closest I’d ever come to barring my body.

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working out in paradise is tough

And that’s just how it’s been all these years. But for all the negativity that surrounds getting older, there are some rarely talked about benefits. For one, I’m not as hard on myself. Not every thing I do or every way I look is a direct reflection of who I am.

I love too many things about myself to keep letting myself get dragged down by trying to be the person I think everyone wants me to be, instead of discovering and embracing the unique person I am.

So fast forward 10 years to the boyfriend who is now a husband who tells me, when it comes up, that he doesn’t even see my scars.

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This now husband and I have three children we’re raising and friends we love so much, we want to travel with them and so we do.

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We went to Club Med this past summer for our annual big trip.

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And on this trip I have decided I no longer want to hide myself from the world. I am going to throw myself open and let the world do what it wants.

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That’s right world: do it!

I have too many other things to be grateful for to worry about getting the seal of approval from strangers.

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And you know what? No one looked twice. And what did my family think?

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Beyond blessed. Thank you God.

Na’am Yoga: for kids with special needs or people who need to heal

It sounds like science fiction. It has words attached to it that sound like another language. Words like mudra, mantra and pranayama. But it’s actually an approach to healing that is rooted in ancient history and modern science.

It’s called Na’am Yoga and its unlike any kind of yoga I’ve ever practiced and I’ve been practicing for over a decade. It combines movement (mudra), sound (mantra) and breath (pranayama) to move mountains within the body and mind, promoting healing far beyond the reaches of conventional Western medicine.

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The Na’am Yoga LA center offers classes for everyone, the physically healthy individual as well as the one with specific health challenges. They are a non-profit because they offer free sessions targeted to promote healing for people who’ve experienced set backs such as strokes, diabetes or cancer. They even offer a Friday class for those on the autism spectrum.

I sat in on the class tailored for those on the spectrum and felt the floor shake as the kids pounded on it, combining musical beats with movement and joy. Instructor Eugene Pisareuski helped release any tension the kids may have held in their bodies by guiding them through sharp exhalations and beautiful mantras. The room resonated from a chorus of their declarations that “I am love to all. I am peace to all.” They filed out after class with soft faces and laughter.

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One parent, Kate, thinks it works. She said her two adopted, autistic sons have participated in the Friday class for two years. “I wish they could do this everyday.” She said the class left them calmer and they sleep better. Her sons, Nathan age 22 and Michael age 8, she explained, come from traumatic backgrounds on top of the autism they must navigate. “This practice centers them and that’s a definite plus.”

Executive Director of Na’am Yoga Los Angeles, Jane Mirshak said there are many different paths to healing but this one “opens your heart and makes you happy. When you are happy, you can deal with stress.” And doctors believe stress is the cause of many diseases.

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Mirshak said there is much research on sound and breath and it all gets incorporated into Na’am Yoga. The sound redirects energy throughout the body, the movements and pressure points stimulate healing in both body and brain, then breath promotes relaxation.

“Whatever ailment someone is experiencing,” said Mirshak, “we could design a routine to specifically address it.”

Many of the teachers with whom I spoke found Na’am Yoga after seeing the positive results of someone they knew who was practicing it while also battling disease. Even Kate is now training to incorporate the technique of Harmonium, a healing tool created by Na’am Yoga founder, Dr. Michael Levry, for use in her home. According to the Na’am Yoga website, Dr. Levry discovered the secrets that inspired Na’am Yoga through the teachings of spiritual gurus in India.

Excited by this new discovery, I quickly shared the news with my parents. My father practiced yoga for years until two strokes left him unable to perform many of the moves in a typical yoga class. Since beginning his new practice of Na’am Yoga, his caretaker tells me he’s happier and wakes up excited to start the day. Na’am Yoga, it turns out, is good for everyone in the family, even if you’re not the one practicing it.

There are 11 Na’am Yoga centers around the world. For more information go to: www.naamyoga.com or www.naamscience.com

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A shorter version of this post originally appeared in LA Parent Magazine

I did it – but I didn’t do it perfectly (detox pt. 2)

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I lost 10 pounds. The 10 pounds. The elusive 10 pounds everyone is always trying to lose. At least everyone I seem to know.

I wasn’t sad. I didn’t feel deprived. I felt motivated because I had started so strong (6.5 pounds in the first week!). I had half-heartedly been trying to lose weight for, well, ever. I eat healthy (most of the time). I work out pretty much every week day. But it wasn’t coming off. (And sometimes it was coming on!) It wasn’t until I was finally ready to try something new that it finally did.

For 30 days I did two plant-based, protein shakes a day, with capsules full of fruits, vegetables and berries, and a healthy meal. Sometimes that meal would be lunch (better) or if I was going out, it would be dinner. The shakes were filling. Sometimes I would put kale or bok choy or carrots or apples in it too. Whatever I thought sounded good and easy. In between, I ate healthy snacks like apples, bananas, roasted brussel sprouts etc. Grow food. I never let myself get hungry.

10 pounds – one month. I think that’s the healthiest way to do it if you’re trying to do it fast. Two-ish pounds a week.  Though my weight didn’t come off like that storybook tale of weight loss.

This program has rules. Rules that I was supposed to follow for 30 days. I followed them for 7. And the rest of the 21 days I was close but not perfect. No where near perfect. And I guess that was okay.

The next time I weighed myself after my exhilarating 6.5 weight drop  was a Wednesday (I normally weigh myself on Fridays but did it early because we were going camping later that day and I knew I was going to skip a few detox days and add them to the end of my 30. Creative, right?).  Turns out I was the same weight I had been the week before. I was a little heart broken because it felt like I had tried so hard and didn’t have the validation I needed for my efforts but at least I hadn’t gained any weight which meant it was real. Plus, I was just about to start my, umm,  cycle and that’s a couple extra water weight pounds every month. So, really, hurray!

When we got to the campsite, my blonde, thin and beautiful girlfriend Morgan walked over to me and said, “Wow, you look great. Did you lose some weight?”

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Now that’s some powerful validation.

During the camping trip, even though I had given myself a hall pass for the weekend, I was still aware I was supposed to be good with my food. I wanted more of what I got from my friend Morgan. I ate but not a lot and I made healthier choices than I would have otherwise, knowing I had my 6.5 pounds to protect.

In that first perfect week, I had tried to cut out coffee. I drank maybe one or two cups. In the second, I resolved to reduce. One cup a day was fine I decided.

In that first week, I worked out every weekday. You’re supposed to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. I usually walk or take a yoga or zumba class. Nothing crazy. In the second, we went camping so that cut out three of my five days. In the third week, I was tired because it felt like I was fighting off something I had picked up during the camping trip because although I was still drinking the shakes in the morning, I HAD FORGOTTEN TO BRING MY JUICE PLUS CAPSULES – the real heart of our healthy regiment. I live a life full of irony. So, third week, no workout but no coffee either.

You’re also supposed to reduce dairy, wheat and alcohol. Eliminate if you want to go faster. I eliminated wheat and reduced the rest. I love a little feta or gorgonzola in my salads.

Also, somewhere in week two, I watched a documentary with my husband called Forks Over Knives. It talks about a study called The China Study, which is the largest nutritional study ever conducted and points to the meat and dairy industries as the culprits for the increase in cancer we are seeing around the world. Previously healthy countries, shifting from their local diets to our Western one, are starting to experience the obesity and resulting diseases that we are seeing in our country. This study purports it is caused by meat and dairy. Although I am not willing to give up all the foods I love that include those items, I am willing to reduce them. So, starting at week two, we shifted our diets dramatically to include beans, rice and many new (to us) vegetable dishes. I had to get a new cookbook.

But I am a big proponent of the 90-10% rule. With everything, including the kids. If I eat well 90% of the time, I feel I can get away with atypical choices the other 10. It’s within that 10% range that birthday parties fall into for my kids. It’s within that 10% that meat and dairy and alcohol fall into. It’s the every once in a while rule. So you never feel deprived and never have the urge to binge or overindulge.

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Another big part of the program is water consumption. You’re supposed to drink half your body weight in ounces every day. More if you exercise. That’s a tall order but it’s also how your body flushes all the toxins out and how your skin and cells stay supple. I drank two glasses of water in the morning, afternoon and evening, with my meals or shakes. After a while, it just slides down.

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throw back thursday

Then there’s sleep. You’re supposed to get 8 hours a night on the program. Many women hold onto their weight because their bodies don’t get a chance to “cleanse” themselves during the sleep cycle. When we sleep, our entire body repairs itself. And people who regularly get less than 6 hours of sleep, have a shorter life span. Every night I aim for 8 hours but I have kids and I wake up when they wake me up. So the trick is to accommodate this temporary condition in my life by adjusting my natural body clock which is nocturnal. I had varying results with this one too.

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Plus, you’re not supposed to eat after 6. This is also to aid with the “cleansing” portion of the body’s cycle. I mostly failed with this one. I wonder if I had been able to stick to this rule specifically, if I would have had even better results. But I love to go out to dinner with my husband and friends. And I love my weekend couch dates that involve wine and popcorn (air popped).

Overall, I think if you can follow the main principles of the program and decide whether you want to do this quickly to power through the inevitable  detox portion and finish quicker (T30) or go a little slower to ease into the program ( The Complete Transformation). I used the shakes as meal replacements because I wanted to lose weight. But athletes and people who just want to get healthier overall can use them as snacks between meals and after workouts. They are very filling.

At the end of week 4, I held my breath as I stepped onto that little window of  judgement and found the number displayed dipped below my pre-pregnancy weight. Hurray! It was such a welcome sight. I looked up into the mirror with a whole new appreciation of myself, ha ha.

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Ultimately, here’s my philosophy on health: we’re all going to die. Taking Juice Plus and trying to be healthy is about living long and dying short (plus looking good in the meantime….naturally!). Everything will benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables. Everything.

I always hear these great stories from people who take Juice Plus consistently. My one girlfriend has struggled with a bleeding dry skin disorder her entire adult life. She was already eating very clean but after adding the capsules, she told me her skin is softer than it’s ever been. Another friend just told me after a month of taking the capsules, her cousin had her blood work done and all the results were in great ranges. Her doctor asked her what she was doing different and to keep it up because her cousin is battling a brain tumor. It’s things like that that make me want to tell everyone how easy it can be to look and feel great. It’s why I do it between my writing projects. It’s why I pull my hair out when I feel I’m not communicating this great find in a way that makes it clear.  What brought it home for me was after 6 months of taking the Juice Plus capsules my doctor told me my blood tests showed I had low (“enviable”) cholesterol levels. I haven’t had low cholesterol ever. Not since the first time it was tested in 9th grade. It’s genetic and I thought out of my control.  And it’s also freed my family from being quaratined during the cold and flu season like a war triage unit. There are several respected medical journals that have published scientific clinical research studies on Juice Plus showing many more ways it helps people. Which other nutritional supplement company has that?

There’s a reason doctors and nutritionists say to eat 7-13 servings of fruits and veggies everyday. But in this fast paced, over scheduled, processed food world that we live in, it’s hard. Besides, who has a refrigerator big enough?

'Isn't it great? It gives us four times the storage space as a regular fridge!'
That’s what I need!

Just Lose It: the craziness, the shame, all that icky stuff

Somewhere in my thirties, maybe it was after I got married; maybe it was after I had children and lost most of my pregnancy weight, I decided: I had outgrown diets.

Dear-diet

I had resigned myself to the fact that I’d never be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.

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I am not in this picture

And my husband loved me just the way I was. I wasn’t big and I wasn’t small.

But slowly, over time, even though I was working out, even though I had a healthy lifestyle – I didn’t overindulge in any of the fun stuff I did in my youth – I noticed a thickening around my middle. I saw my once firm legs, genetically blessed without cellulite (or so I thought!) suddenly seem a little softer, a little more dimpled. Frankly, it was aggravating. My first reaction was denial. This couldn’t really be happening. This had to be temporary. I was just retaining water. A lot of water.

I started to amp up my cardio, eat more whole foods but I still gave in to the occasional mini binge on cheese flavored corn chips or a chai latte, or the weekend glass of wine. Much as I tried to pretend that these calories didn’t really count, my body vehemently disagreed. In a big way, so to speak. But, like I said, I tried to ignore it and deny the flesh escaping the top of my yoga pants (darn dryer!), or the pictures where I looked like my face had expanded (bad lighting!) and my arms resembled utility poles.

I was happy in my denial, as we tend to be, until kinks develop in the armor of our fantasy to sneak in information like the numbers on the scale progressively climbing during Friday morning weigh-ins. Or the Fridays I would miss the weigh-ins because deep inside, I knew it was better not to know that week.

I was healthy and that was the most important part. I attribute part of my excellent health to the Juice Plus business my husband forced encouraged me to buy after we started taking the products and I couldn’t stop raving about them to my friends. Sorry friends if I keep trying to get or keep you healthy but I want you still playing with me as we wander into our old age together.

About two years after the whole family started taking Juice Plus (and I kept raving to anyone that would listen how my kids kept missing the cold and flu season), they introduced a detox/weight loss program.

I kinda had a problem with that initially. I was into health, remember, not weight loss. After taking my index fingers out of my ears, I heard them say doctors developed this easy program to help people jumpstart into their healthiest condition.

If that meant, they needed to lose weight, then that’s what would happen. If it meant someone needed to gain weight, then that could happen too.

The program is called T30. (There is a less intense version that is just as effective called The Complete Transformation) It uses the nutrition available from The Juice Plus Company, clean, encapsulated fruits and veggies and 100% whole food protein shakes, to add 40 whole foods into their body every day and launch them into their “healthy zone”. It basically boils down to two shakes, the trio of veggie and fruit capsules and a healthy meal. You can juggle that however you want.

I started it with my enthusiastic friend, Elana, because it’s always more fun to do something like this with a friend, on the 10th of September, a Wednesday. I feared being hungry like I remembered from previous diets. I feared being crabby like on previous diets. Luckily, I walked through my fears.

I will say this and not much more, (and I’m sure you’ll understand why), but, I did detox. Even though I eat clean and have been taking Juice Plus for 2 years, I still did visit the toilet more regularly than my usual regular and the first few days my body did feel awfully “busy”. I tried to focus on the fact that I was getting rid of all the stuff that had gotten stuck inside of me and needed to come out anyway.

On my Friday morning weigh-in (two days later), I was down 2.5 lbs. I didn’t get (too) excited. I regularly lose and gain a couple pounds in water weight but at least we were finally moving in the right direction. Haha.

I wasn’t crabby. In fact, I suddenly had all this new energy to become interested in projects that I had told myself I was much too busy to do. The house got cleaner and more organized. I hung up pictures in my office that had patiently waited for wall space for a couple years.

I never starved myself. If I was hungry, I ate an apple, a handful of nuts or some other type of “grow food” as we call it in our house. A few days ago, I went on a baked vegetable kick and coated two bagfuls of broccoli sprouts (one for dinner, one as a snack) and two handfuls of kale (dinner) with olive oil and salt and baked them into crunchy snacks. Even my youngest, Knox, was trying to steal my veggie snacks.

I don’t feel deprived. I allow myself some leeway. On Wednesday, I had a glass of wine and some air popped (non GMO) popcorn with my writer’s group gal pals. On Saturdays (or one day a week), I’ll enjoy myself on date night, or at someone’s birthday or a girl’s night out. Still cognizant of what I’m trying to achieve, I enjoy myself without over-enjoying.

My last Friday morning weigh in was fantastic. My scale had dipped into territory it hadn’t visited in a while. I was 6.5 lbs. lighter. I felt better. My middle didn’t feel like it was getting in the way of my body as I moved from activity to activity. I checked out my chin in the side mirror and saw the softening I had attributed to the “beyond my control” aging process had sharpened up. I now had an edge between by neck and my cheek. And I bade my wattle goodbye.

And this was after 9 days. Stay tuned. I wasn’t brave enough to take before pictures. Sorry. But I will gladly share my “after” pictures.

My Fake Lashes…a journey into extensions

 My youngest son has these cartoon character eyelashes that any girl would kill for.

He got them from his dad.

While I, like most girls, have to curl, color and volumize in order for mine to even be seen.

This is before curling, coloring and volumizing

I had heard of eyelash extensions but it sounded painful and was something I thought I’d never do. After all, even if you can withstand the discomfort, who wants to looks like Tammy Faye Baker?

She probably wants to look like Tammy Faye Baker

But then I saw my beautiful friend Lindsay.

She looks nothing like Tammy Faye Baker
 

And she had eyelash extensions and looked amazing. Amazing. Not at all fake or overdone. She is a very natural looking girl, and beautiful to boot (single if you can believe it!), so a fake looking eyelash appendage would have looked bizarre on her. But while we hung out, I kept glancing over to admire her now extravagant lashes and finally decided to investigate into getting them for myself.

 
Now. Being on a budget – or at least not being able to justify a huge eyelash expense to my husband – I started looking for deals on GroupOn and Living Social. Might as well get a good deal if I can. This is how I go about it: If I find a service I want, I go onto Yelp and see what past customers think of the company’s performance. I know oftentimes it is usually the disgruntled that take the time to share their nasty experiences, so if there are some of those, I want to hear about them before I commit to anything.
 
Living Social had a deal ~ $125 for a full Volume Set and included an aftercare product. The regular price was $250 with no free product. Sounded good, so I went onto Yelp to make sure the business was legitimate.
 

The reviews for the stylist were great. At this point, I started to get excited. I bought the deal and plotted for the perfect time to maximize the impact of my new look….say, a girl’s night out or a weekend with my honey.

Then I took my son to baseball practice and ran into my friend, Heather who also has eyelash extensions.

 

We started girl gabbing about this suddenly essential component I must immediately incorporate into my life. You know, the usual. How long did she have them? (Over a year) Did she love them? (yes, obviously, she’s had them for a year) How often did she have to maintain them? (every 2-3 weeks) and finally, the biggest consideration: How much did she pay? Her answer brought me into instantaneous retail agony. You know the kind. When you find the good deal you thought you got was actually not so great. And in this case, had I waited for just one more week, I could have gotten Heather’s better deal.

So, in a panic, I emailed Living Social (because you know, they have that Good Deal Guarantee) and told them I needed a refund because I found a better deal.

 
Next I called the business number provided on the Living Social deal (yes, I’m still at baseball practice) and spoke frankly with the owner. I told her, look, I love Living Social and thought I was getting a great deal since I have no experience with eyelash anything except mascara and curlers and just found out my friend is getting a better deal than the one I bought from a coupon place! 
 
I have to say, her voice alone calmed me down. She was very mellow and laughed and didn’t seem at all put off that someone she had never met, one of 100 people who had taken advantage of a deal that cut so dramatically into her profit, was now calling to take even that away
 
She explained two things that attempted to help me understand the price difference. One, the stylist’s product cost had an impact on the customer’s final cost. Different lashes cost different amounts. So obviously, I would be getting some great lashes is what she inferred. Knowing nothing about lashes or what they were made from, I just inwardly agreed. It made sense. Also, she painted a picture of back-alley lash clinics that imported waste and unsavory elements and who wanted that stuff near their eyes? OK, I was sold. I booked with Karina and couldn’t wait for my appointment. After all, the price difference was only about $20 and after interrogating Heather a little further, I found out the overall cost was really only a few bucks less, so I was back on my retail savings cloud.

Before our appointment, the stylist, Karina was great. Very professional. She emailed me a confirmation and address of where my appointment would be. Her studio is in North Hollywood and she has another in Studio City at a Med Spa but very conveniently, she was covering for a friend who has a lash studio in Canoga Park. That was a much better fit for an Agoura Hills mom.

On the morning of my appointment she texted me, confused, asking me if I was still coming because she had gotten a cancellation from Living Social for my voucher.

Oh my gosh! I had completely spaced on retracting my cancellation!

I told her how sorry I was, feeling like the biggest pain of a customer that ever lived, and told her I’d take care of it or pay her the fee that I had originally given to LS. She, again, was very relaxed and laughed, said no problem. I already liked her.

So I sent LS an email and drove to her friend’s studio

next door to the Spectrum Gym in a little strip mall.
 
Everything in the studio was white and clean and Karina was in one of the curtain-drawn rooms doing some paperwork. 
 
She greeted me warmly as I plopped onto the examination table and took out my phone to see if LS had responded to my email and yes they had! I already had a brand new voucher for the lash extension sitting in my Inbox and I showed it to Karina, again apologizing for my rash move, feeling a little proud of handling my mistake so efficiently and a little relieved that LS is such a professional company.
 
She asked how I wanted my lashes. I told her about Lyndsay being able to look natural and glamorous at the same time and how I too wanted something natural looking but that would still give me that bit of a wow effect. Plus I didn’t want to have to wear make-up to look like I was awake. With two little boys, I just don’t always have time in the morning and hate putting on make-up if I’m going to the gym, which is almost everyday. So most days I just have way too much of that natural look. I wanted to drum it up a bit.
 
She showed me some pictures and I gave her a thumbs up or down on each look. Finally, she thought she knew what I wanted.
BEFORE – much much too natural
I lay down on the examination table and she put two large pieces of tape to cover my lower lashes to avoid them from accidentally sticking to the glue.
 
Then she used surgical glue to meticulously attach each lash to my actual lashes. It didn’t hurt at all. I could have slept if I wasn’t so excited.
 
There are three types of lashes that lash stylists use and I found an objective explanation of them here.
 
I don’t know for sure but I am guessing that Kim Kardashian uses the acryllic kind because hers are very dramatic.
There is no way I could pull this sultry swankiness off while I’m dropping my kids off at pre-school or kindergarten but I have seen other moms do it. Full make-up, hairdos and single girl outfits at 9am. I don’t know how they do it. There have been days I was lucky to brush my teeth before I walked out the door.
 
The whole process took longer than I expected but I was able to find some things out. Like, what makes one stylist or salon different from another is the artistry of the stylist. Just like there are tons of people with their license to cut hair, many of them very close to where I live, there is a reason I drive to Hollywood to see my hairstylist friend, Wendy Lallas. Yes there is.
 
While I was lying there, two things happened outside of our little curtained off room, in the salon, that got my attention. One, this woman walked in saying she was so overdue for a lash fill, her boss had just asked her what was wrong with her eyes. Ouch. Note to self: don’t go there. This was a man who had been supposedly socialized to have manners. My boys are still working on that. God knows what they’d say.
Two, someone asked someone else about another woman and the reply was an amused recounting of this other woman’s allergic reaction to the glue. It was during this moment that Karina’s hands were completely inside my face, working the fake lashes into my real ones.
 
“Umm?” I asked.
“Don’t worry. If it was going to happen it would have already happened. As soon as the glue got near your skin,” she said.
 
Okay, I was reassured but here’s a Facebook post I found that goes into these types of allergies a little more specifically. But it is Facebook so not sure about the accuracy.
 
OK, so two hours later, she’s finally pulling the tape off my bottom lashes, thank god because at this point I’m late picking everyone up. I had only factored in one hour, again trying to pack in too much into too litte.
 
Karina used synthetic mink lashes on me and although the process of applying this type of lash takes longer and is a little more arduous to attain that perfect combination of sulty and natural, I think it is so worth it.
 
And voila!
I am definitely awake now!
AFTER
All I could think of was, wow! I hadn’t put on any make-up for the appointment and even without the this and that to add color to my face, I still looked very dramatic.
 
I was very happy and went home with instructions from Karina to help keep the look longer, no oil based eye make-up removers, no steaming or jacuzzis for the first 24 hours. She told me I should wash my lashes at night and morning with the soap wash that came with my LS deal. I could also use it as an eye makeup remover but if I’m not using mascara, that’s most of the battle won right there. That’s right, no need for mascara. Or eyelash curlers. Yay. And I rarely put on upper eyeliner, only for extra special nights out because really, I don’t need it. So, that cuts down my getting ready time by like a good ten minutes every day, which if you have small kids or a busy schedule, you know what a treasure of found time that is. 
 
Also. No eye rubbing. I forgot a few days in and felt myself lose a couple lashes in my inner left eye. Oh well, you can’t tell. 
 
She told me that the lashes fall out with the natural shedding of my real lashes and that’s all dependent on the individual and their diet. I’m hearing her say this and feeling so smart because I know that the Juice Plus I’m taking also cuts down on hair loss (in fact, it’s helped me – and Howard – grow hair). Ha! These things were going nowhere!
 
ALMOST THREE WEEKS LATER: I have an appointment in a few days for a fill but my lashes still look amazing. I’m thinking of postponing. I love my new lashes and plan on going back to keep them up. The fill price is dependent on how often you go back because, of course, they figure the longer it’s been, the more work they have to do. But fill appointments are thankfully much shorter 30-45 minutes depending on how much you want done.
 
These lash places are springing up everywhere. Just make sure the place you go to is licensed and has a good reputation.
 
Karina agreed to extend my LS deal to my friends (and if you are reading for this long, you are definitely my friend!). She doesn’t really advertise and books quickly, all through word of mouth, so get her while you can.
 
And yes, I’ve gotten tons and tons of compliments on my lashes. But it doesn’t get old. Last night my husband said to me, “I can’t stop staring at your face.” It’s the best beauty thing I’ve done since getting my ombre hair color. These lashes have been the easiest way to get that really feminine, youthful look. You know, without getting all that plastic surgery stuff.
 
EYELASH UPDATE:
 
So I’ve had a couple fills since I now seem to be addicted to having these lashes as much as I love to get a great new haircut.
 
Yet, I’m still a mom and still short on time so I can’t just run around town at my whim like single girl I used to be. It took me almost six weeks before I had my first fill. I should have done it at week four or five. Five may have worked but if I wanted to look great the whole time, four would have been perfect. By the time I went back to Karina, I still had a smattering of lashes left. She was surprised. But one lash, in particular, hadn’t shed like it should have because of all the Juice Plus I take (and now sell) and was instead growing like Jack’s magic beanstalk. It was kinda funny looking like it was trying to grow high enough to escape. 
not bad after 6 weeks

I waited as long as possible because we were going on our summer vacation and I wanted to make sure our pictures and my self-esteem wouldn’t suffer as I embraced the au-natural look during our beach trip. Lashes and a tan really do make all the difference. 

I was a little worried that all the salt water of the ocean and the chlorine of the pool would shorten the life of my lashes. I was afraid they might make me look like a plucked chicken by the end of the week. But I shouldn’t have worried. Turns out these lashes are great for the active girl as well as the more mellow gal.

no make-up

There is no way I could have pulled the Toucan picture off without having that extra color around my eyes.

Hooked, I tell you.
I have to say, I’m looking forward to my next “fix”.