The Sweet Fit Vegan

My adventure's in transforming me from top to bottom, inside and out.

I’m not JUST about healthy food and fitness…

So, I’ve decided to add a little bit of content to my blog for you guys:  General wellness and taking care of yourself.  I know a lot of my topics focus on clean eating, and exercising (maybe I haven’t hit on that near as much as I should be), but there are other ways that we can take care of ourselves and not go completely broke!  So, I was in the shower today thinking about my daily “routine” and thought… “I wonder if other people have a routine they follow?” I’m not the overly vain type of person, but I can’t stand it when I have dry skin and acne I’m 31 years old for crying out loud, and sometimes I look like I’m still in middle school with the splotches that land across my forehead.  Lately, I’ve taken to using some regular products to help combat all of these issues, so I’ll share them with you.  All the while giving props to the companies who make the products I love and doing some product testing!

So, for starters I don’t shower everyday. If I were to exercise for an hour or more everyday then I would, but I don’t.  I do sit around my house all day not working up much sweat taking care of my kids, but I do shower every other day! I do wash my face and pits everyday so I’m not some nasty lady. If you think that’s gross I don’t really care! Moving on… 🙂

Let’s get started.  Below is a list of my suggested steps to making sure you have healthy skin:

1 Get Rid of Yesterday’s Dirt : This should be done everyday, either in the shower or standing at your bathroom sink.  I use a hypoallergenic, dye free, scent free  bar soap just to get rid of the previous day’s make up and dirt.

HypoAllergenic Soap

HypoAllergenic Soap

2. Wipe Away the Smudges: For women, getting off that leftover mascara and eye liner is important!  The good  news, is you don’t have to spend $10 on those fancy make up removers.  Just head down your store’s baby aisle and snag a package of baby wipes!  They work the same, and cost WAY less!

Easy Peasy Baby Wipes

Easy Peasy Baby Wipes

3. Exfoliate: Nothing irritates me more than dead skin flying off my body but especially my face!  I have been an avid exfoliater for about a decade, and I simply cannot imagine a routine that didn’t include this process!  I’ve used many products in the bath from St. Ive’s scrubs to loofah (serious gross if you have one! please throw it out!), and even making my own (Some brown sugar, honey, and olive oil mixed in a bowl! I keep some in my bathroom at ALL times, and it’s great for more than just your face.  Dry itchy legs, back scrub, and more!) But my latest Vegan Cuts Beauty Box included this product Bamboo Tapioca Beads.  Not only does it smell absolutely delicious, but it’s not fiercely invigorating to the point where you’re uncomfortable.

Tapioca Beads for Exfoliating

Tapioca Beads for Exfoliating

You also don’t need to use a ton.  First, I focus on the uber dry spots: my forehead and nose.  Usually I can get away with a pea sized amount and still have a little left to do my chin right under my mouth! Scrub it on for about 15-20 seconds, rinse with warm water and pat your face dry.  Try to avoid wiping your face with a towel! It’ll make you feel like you never used anything in the first place!

Use sparingly!

Use sparingly!

4. Deep Cleaning: I know, you’re thinking “But I already washed my face”.  And you did a great job doing that!  But, not that you’ve scrubbed the dead skin off, you’ll want to do a good deep cleaning with a good facial cleanser.  Currently, I’m using Fresh Mild Rice Cleanser- now, I know it is a small bottle and it won’t last me that long, but I’m one of those ladies who ALWAYS has a back up, so I also have an Arbonne Gentle Cleanser that I can use when this is gone.

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Fresh Rice Cleanser

Either product is gentle on your skin, has no harsh chemicals and leaves your face feeling wonderful.  Again, a little can go a long way, so use sparingly.  Then rinse with warm water, and PAT your face don’t wipe it with a towel!

Arbonne Cleanser

Arbonne Cleanser

5. Spa Yourself: There is nothing better than going to the spa and having some splatter mud all over your face while you sit with your head wrapped in a towel drinking mojitos…right?!  Honestly- I’ve never been to a spa for a facial, but I imagine that is what it’s like.  Luckily, some companies don’t force you to prance around in front of strangers in order to get that feeling, and they’ve put those mud masks and peels inside containers you can take home with you!  (Thank GOD for that!) I have use Que Bella masks before and love them.  You can snatch up one of these little packs for about $1.99 at your local Target and it gives you about 3-4 masks.  Way cheaper than the spa, isn’t it?  This one in particular is a Tea Tree and Witch Hazel- two fantastic ingredients for you!  Here’s the catcher with THIS product at the point in the game: because I’ve washed and scrubbed and washed again, my pores are WIIIIIDE open… and for the first 30 seconds or so, it stings a little bit!  But once it starts to dry, it’s totally alright! (Just throwing that little note out there in case someone reading this has a very low pain tolerance!) otherwise slap that sucker on and walk around the house forcing your husband to question why he married you, scare the hell out of your kids, and send your cats running for the closet! HA HA! (This happens every time I use it!)

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I also have a less intense mask that I use that doesn’t scare my family, and it smells a lot better.  It’s (vegan of course) by Juice Beauty and I got it in a FabFitFun box a few months ago.  It goes on clear so you’re not frightening children and washes right off with warm water (as opposed to peeling like some do). Again- pat your face dry and don’t wipe!

DSCN01086. Hide Your Lines: I recently turned 31 years old, and don’t want ANYONE to know it.  So, I’ve started using an Anti Aging Serum around my eyes.  I want to hide those little crows feet as long as possible!  This you REALLY can use sparingly!  Just one teensie tiny pump on your ring finger, and rub it right under your eyes and around your crows feet. You can also use it in the spot right above your nose in between your eye brows!
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Now, you’re probably wondering what kind of facial moisturizer I use.  Well- I don’t.  I used to EVERY day to stifle that dry skin that was on my forehead.  But, by using the above products on a daily basis, I don’t have the dry skin I used to, so I don’t use facial cremes.  That, and there’s so much “stuff” in them, and I’m too cheap to buy all natural expensive cremes, this process works wonders for me! Don’t get me wrong, if I see something all natural and vegan on sale or at a  good price, I grab it.  Otherwise I love my little process!

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope this has been informative!  Below are links to some of the brands I use regularly.  Check out their sites and some of their products!  I look forward to reading some of your comments below!

Que Bella Beauty       Juice Beauty Organics       Kaia Naturals       Blisoma Skin Care       Passport 2 Beauty

Vegan Cuts                FabFitFun                 Arbonne

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The Sweet Sweetness of Sugar

sugarcube

Full disclosure: I’m a hound for a good documentary.  Especially if it’s about food.  So, the other evening I sat down and watched Fed Up, the recently released documentary about how sugar plays a roll in obesity.  Let me say: really scary!  I feel like the government’s (lack of) regulations, is out to kill it’s own citizens. I was actually angry by the time I was done watching it.  Since then, I’ve been looking at EVERY label I have and EVERY label at the grocery store.  Some things have actually shocked me!

Obviously today I’m going to preach how watching your sugar intake can help manage your weight.  I’m going to refer back to this documentary (that’s how informative it was).  It focused on obese children- huge target market for candy, cereal, and junk food candies.  “Put a cartoon character on it, they’ll beg their parents to buy it”.  So, I’m thinking, the more boring the box looks, the healthier it is. I’ll let you know if that tends to be true or not!  So, these parents had been informed by their children’s doctor that they were overweight or obese, and needed to start watching what they fed them.  Most of them went out and ended up buying the “healthier” version of the kids’ favorite snacks.  You know- the ‘low calorie’ or ‘fat free’ version of the cookies and crackers.  The ‘healthy’ sugar coated cereal because it was ‘packed with fiber’.  In the end- they aren’t healthier.  They may have lower fat, but they still have extra added sugar.  The sugar is what needs to be watched!

So, we’ve been on a mission to drastically reduce our sugar intake in our home.  We went to Target the other day for a few food items, one of them was crackers.  You know- good old, crackers you throw some cheese on as a snack or crumble up in chili or soup.  Personally, I had just purchased a new tub of hummus, and needed some yummy dippers!  So, I grabbed my usual box (Ritz Whole Wheat), and there it was: added sugar!  WAIT… in CRACKERS?  Salty crackers….had sugar?  Um… ok.  So, next I grabbed Wheat Thins.  Again- added sugar!  Geesh…. Ok, let’s try Triscuits.  Those are horribly full of fiber and wheat and (personally I think they taste horrible).  You guessed it!  Added sugar!  The only brand I found without sugar was a Premium brand Rounds whole wheat.  (They make the old fashioned, been around for 75 years Saltine crackers!)  In my opinion, they don’t really blend well with red pepper hummus!

So, last night we had to make a run to our local grocery store, Wegmans.  I decided that I couldn’t justify wasting my tub of hummus, so I decided to grab my regular Ritz crackers.  Even if it’s my last box EVER… I’ll burn it off in a workout later!  So I came to the conclusion, unless you eat nothing  but fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed meats, you’re bound to run into a few Nutrition Labels.  So, knowing how to read them, knowing what to watch and track in your daily diet is important.

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To really abide by a nutrition label, you have to be counting EVERYTHING!  Calories, serving size, and daily percentages just to name a few things!  What I found interesting (learning in the Doc) was the companies are not required to put a Daily % for sugar.  According to the AHA (American Heart Association), men should have 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons daily, and women should have 25 grams or 6 teaspoons daily.  The only thing I can say, is if you look at the ingredients and sugar is one of the first 7 ingredients- don’t get it!  Items shouldn’t contain more sugar than most anything else.  The following is a great chart to check out to see how much of what you should be consuming from your food!
nutrition

Obviously, much like any other addiction (and trust me unless you are a 100% clean eater, you eat processed food and that food as sugar, and that food has you hooked!), it’s difficult to just quit it cold turkey.  ( I honestly don’t know how I quit smoking cold turkey, but I did!) So, if you’re going to decide to minimize your sugar, which I’ll suggest to everyone, start small.  Change a meal at a time and a day at a time.  Something else you should know, is what sugar is called.  Sugar comes in many forms and with many different names.  Below shows you just how many different forms sugar comes in!

namesforsugar

Live Healthy, Be Happy

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Why The Lotus

lotus-qoute

I’ve had a few people inquire as to why I’ve called my business Lotus Health and Fitness.  Some people know that the Lotus flower grows from the depths of muddy dark ponds.  Personally, I found myself at the bottom of my own murky pond when I realized I had to change my life.  I felt ugly and closed off from the world, and since then, feel as if I have emerged into the comfort of my own skin, to a point where I feel beautiful.

lotus-flower

Many of us find ourselves there, at a dark and depressing, murky and ugly place in our life.  To some of us, it’s the illness or death of a loved one due to health problems, that we quickly realize could be avoided or reversed.  Perhaps you have a wake up call when your child is running through the park and you can’t physically keep up with them.  Or you simply don’t feel comfortable enough to wear a swimsuit in the summer.  Whatever the reason, we all have the capability to blossom into something magical!

confidence

The lotus flower has many different meanings in history and culture.  For instance, the Ancient Egyptians associated the lotus with rebirth,  In Buddhism the lotus is known to be associated with purity, spiritual awakening and faithfulness.  Further more, each color of the lotus can represent something different.

Lotus-Flower (1)

In order to reach a level of self confidence and comfort in yourself, you have to take one tiny step at a time, educate yourself, try and try again, and grow from within.

Live Healthy,  Be Happy

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I’m Sorry… You Think I Can do WHAT?!

Sooooo… about a month after VegFest 2014 in Buffalo, Ny, I got this random Facebook message from a girl, who I assume was at the event, asking me if I wanted to take part in this Beachbody Challenge, that “I could pick the workout” and “They work miracles” and yada yada yada…. I explained that I was a stay at home mom and starting to really get lift off with my baking business (I mean like space shuttle lift off!!) and really didn’t think I had the time.  She told me that it was only a half hour each day, and if I didn’t like it I could get a refund.  “Yeah… okay.  Let me try …. PIYO!” It sounded fun. all about stretching, some strength workouts, but nothing too crazy for me.

PiYo_LOGO_low_res

It took about a week to get to me- cool!  Quick shipping!  I read through what seemed like a gazillion booklets “What to Measure”, “Your before and after”, “Here’s what you should eat”, “Drink this stuff too”… so much stuff.  So, my husband helped me measure- 145 lbs and a total of 169 inches.  (Determined by measure your arms, chest, waist, hips, and thighs, then added together.)  Not too bad… I was down close to 30 lbs, feeling good.  So, I did was any first time exerciser would do:  I popped in the first dvd with the first workout, sat down with my bag of chips and watched first.  (Crazy I know, but I didn’t want to have to stop with EVERY move to find out how to do it… chips were just a bonus!)  The next day I put it back in and threw on my big bottom capris and started doing the moves.  Before I know it, my kids wanted to join in.  “Hey mom, that looks fun.  Can I do it too?” <enter confused look>  “Of course you can guys!”  Before you know it, my son was telling me not to do Piyo until he got home from school.  Even went to school telling his new teacher that his mom is a vegan, and bakes cupcakes, and does Piyo.  Not that she would know what the heck that was by the sound of it!  But he was uber excited.

PiyoKids

My kids LOVING Piyo!

Two weeks later, both of us had completely forgotten was Piyo even was, the box set was shoved on the bottom shelf to the back of the TV Stand and I started filling more baking orders!  Go figure…. Have to make the money first, right?!

So a few months go by, a few events, many cupcakes and birthday cake orders, and here comes the holiday season.  I know this holiday season will be both difficult and easy for me.  Easy, because I know that I will not be indulging in a giant Thanksgiving meal that would leave me sitting on the coach in my fat pants!  Also difficult, because this would be my first holiday- the only vegan- and everyone looking at me like “Eww.. what IS that!?”  So, I had prepared myself for questions and stares.  However, holiday season also means tight budge season.  Christmas shopping gets down to the wire, and I always make sure the kids’ mouths have food in them before mine.  So, over the holiday season I shed another couple pounds- nothing drastic.

My very first Vegan Thanksgiving!!!

My very first Vegan Thanksgiving!!!

My husband works in retail, which, if you’ve ever done it, can be very stressful for someone no matter what the position they work.  He’s been in retail since his first job, and it doesn’t get any easier.  So he had been voicing that he wanted to get a degree/certification to become a personal trainer. (He goes to the gym ‘religiously’ it makes me sick!) So I hooked him up with an acquaintance of mine, that I happened to meet at VegFest, and who also happened to be a Fitness Coach through Beachbody.  He asked a few questions, watched a few videos, but sadly didn’t feel it was for him.  He’s more of a pumping iron in front of a big mirror type of guy!  But then one day, he says to me, “I think you should be a Beachbody Coach.  You know all the right people, and you’ve lose a lot of weight since cleaning up your diet.  I think you’d be good at it.”

<enter confused face>

So I pondered it for a while (more like a day or two) and asked a friend some questions.  I decided I would give it a shot, and if I didn’t like it, would just give it up.  So, two days before New Years, I signed up to be a Team Beachbody Coach.  I quickly learned that it wasn’t just about selling fitness product to people who wanted to be active or clean up their eating.  It stretched way deeper than that, and I feel like I’m learning more and more every day.  I can’t wait to sit down with my first client and help them change their lives for the better!

Until Tomorrow… Live Healthy, Be Happy!

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A Me I Never Know I’d Need To Meet

It was January 22, 2014 and I knew few things for certain: My oldest had just turned 9.  My youngest would be 3 in just a few months.  I was at the heaviest non pregnant weight I had ever been: 171 pounds!  I had given birth almost THREE years before, and I still hadn’t lost any of the weight.  I guess I was beyond calling it “baby weight”, wasn’t I?  I was also certain that I was about to change my life for good.  Having just seen my 11th PETA video in a row, I had thrown my hands in the air and sworn off eating meat ever again!  (The video had been pigs in a slaughterhouse that turned my stomach!)

The next few days were pretty easy.  I would make a big meal for my family that consisted of either chicken or turkey (never really were big into beef or pork), with vegetables, some potatoes or rice, and some rolls.  I would simply eat the sides.  It may not seem like it was much, but it satisfied my hunger.  In the first week, I had 1 serious urge to eat meat (when I cooked garlic crusted tilapia), which I quickly regretted.   I quickly found meat alternatives (thank you Tofurkey, Gardein, and Wegmans for having those delicious options!) to eat with my meals.

A short 5 months later, we took a day trip to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, Ny and had the utmost privilege of meeting, petting, feed, and simply being with animals that were saved from Factory Farms.  There, we got to be in the presence of and pet cows that were happily grazing in field, chickens that strolled the same lanes we did, pigs that cared less if you curled up in the hay beside them, goats that were content to be in your company, and turkey’s with attitudes that portrayed that of the Stooges!  It was that afternoon that I had my awakening- Why?!  Why do we use them?  They are beings with souls.  They are babies, and mothers.  They are, of all things, survivors!  I could not bare the thought of using another animal for a product that didn’t belong to me.

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Farm Sanctuary 2014

Farm Sanctuary 2014

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Having given up meat, now dairy, eggs, honey and all other animal products, I found myself watching even MORE documentaries, rewatching others.  Food, Inc, Supersize Me, Farmeggedon, Earthlings, Forks Over Knives, and Vegucated being some of the most influential.  Not only that, but reading EVERY food label.  I used to walk through a grocery store and have my “go to” foods- I knew what we ate, knew where to find it, knew how much it would cost!  Not now!  Now, I looked at ingredients, and if I didn’t know what it was, I would look it up.  If I didn’t like the way it sounded, I started weening off of it and eating something better and healthier.  Over the months I would start to look at protein and sugar content as well.

Wny VegFest 2014

I was incredibly lucky to find a local Vegan Facebook Group that helped answer what I’m sure was an overload of “Newbie Questions”, but they were all super helpful and supportive!  I was honored to be a part of WNY’s Inaugural VegFest in Buffalo, Ny (bringing some delicious Vegans sweets).  These milestones had opened an amazing door for me, introducing me to some awesome people who would further change my life – I just didn’t know it yet!  The months after that, I learned even more- some food coloring actually stemmed from animals, as did confectioner’s sugar which is used in cookie decorations and rainbow sprinkles!  I started looking at all my personal care products too, which was a lot harder than I thought since you really can’t pronounce most of the ingredients on the labels.  (I’m still learning about these all!)

I quickly learned that eating and living healthier doesn’t have to be difficult.  It’s about knowing what you’re eating, where it comes from, and how it’s made!  Just from giving up eating meat I lost about 30 lbs.  I never thought I would say that: “I’ve lost 30 lbs this year” .  I say it out loud sometimes and it still doesn’t seem right.  But I know it is- I can feel it.  I feel lighter, I have more energy and sleep better.  I have less headaches (and I suffered from many!) and that feels GREAT!  I feel like I’ve cleansed my body of 30 lbs of nothing but “Yuck” ! I know I could never go back to eating milk and all those nasty hard to pronounce chemicals.  Don’t get me wrong, I still crave chocolate (I’m human!) and cookies about EVERY day of my life, but that’s where being a vegan baker comes in handy!

To a new year, improved health and happier life…. I invite you back!

Live Heatlhy, Be Happy

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