Paleo or bust… Literally.

Most evenings these days, I find myself burping up little nasty bursts of hot acidic stuff.

I can’t fit into my jeans anymore, except the stretchiest of my jeggings, which don’t really count.

Dressing each day requires some strategy to cover the “muffin top”, love handles, and the lines from where my too-small underwear dig into my flesh.

Muffin Top

NOT me... but you get the picture.

I find myself wanting to buy a new wardrobe consisting of leggings and extra-long, roomy, bulky tops (I know, Stacy & Clinton, I should be wearing structured tops & belts & blazers…).

The Wii Fit says I’m about 25 pounds overweight. It makes a helpful ominous noise after weighing me every day to make sure I’m aware that I’ve crossed over to the dark side.

My bowels are often unhappy with me. Enough said.

Something! Has got! To give!

On a more substantial and long-term note, I want to act preventatively against future cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses, rather than filling my body with what health nuts like to call “poisons” (sugar, flour, etc), and then sometime down the line having to aggressively try to salvage any semblance of health before my body gives out entirely.

So, I made a decision. A resolution, if you will.

I’m not very good with wishy-washy resolutions. I’m part of the 90% of people that would make a resolution to join a gym in January and go for two weeks, but without a set schedule or workout buddy or some sort of goal to work towards, would find myself at home being lazy before the end of the month.

So, when my friend Erica announced that she had lost 18 pounds after doing the Whole30 diet for a month, I looked at the website and started researching.

I’ve spent a few weeks reading everything on the site, looking at recipes, and talking to people that have tried similar diets, and I’m finally ready to start.

I had to wait til after Valentine’s Day, of course – I had to be able to eat the decadent dessert my boyfriend made (chocolatey to-die-for delightfulness)!

But it starts this week, on my Reading Week. They recommend just starting cold turkey, but I kinda wanted to live it up for a while before getting really healthy. So I did. Wine, cheese, cheesecake, tortillas, chocolate, bread, muffins, cream in my coffee… All stuff I will miss, but it will be worth it!

So… What the heck is Paleo? The term “Paleo” is actually short for paleolithic. The diet is also called the Caveman Diet, the Stone Age Diet, and more. Basically, it’s an ancient diet that people would have had in the age known as the “paleolithic era.” I don’t think I believe in cavemen, but I think there’s something to this diet anyway.

Pistachio Pesto Chicken Pasta

A Whole30-friendly dish: Pistachio Pesto Chicken Pasta

A caveman on the Whole30 version of the Paleo diet (it’s stricter than regular Paleo) would not eat the following foods: grains or any derivative of any kind (including alcohol), dairy, sugars, or legumes. They would eat meat, nuts (except peanuts and cashews), vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats like coconut oil. At first glance, this seems extreme. But when you start looking at the pages and pages of amazingly delicious-looking recipes (like the ones on this site) that you can make with fruit and vegetables and meats and eggs, and even things like almond or coconut flour, your mouth would be watering!

I should mention that the creators of the Whole30 diet advocate choosing high-quality, organic, free-range, non-processed meats. Since I will be doing the Starving Student version, I will not often be able to choose the best meats, but am confident this diet will serve me well anyway.

The Whole9 people believe that “real food” and “healthy nutritional habits” are the foundation to a healthy, balanced, and sane life. I am inclined to agree that there’s something to it.

9 Factors

I start 30 days (or possibly 60 or more) of this diet tomorrow. Please accept my apology if I bring my own food to your house or ask you what you’re serving ahead of time: I am not trying to be haughty or rude, but I am making an investment in my lifelong health by taking a stand now.

~~~

Slightly off-topic but interesting side note: the National Post recently posted an article about MDs wanting to put junk food in the same category as E. Coli: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/15/french-fries/

Advertisements

Revealed: Red for the Redhead

Today’s post is an extension of yesterday’s: a reveal of the “secret” hair colour that Natali from Expressions Hair Design gave me yesterday: I’m a redhead again!

Red!

Red!

You may remember from my Valentine’s Day post that Johnathan and I were celebrating Valentine’s last night instead of Tuesday because of my midterms. Hence the “secret” colour: I had to wait to reveal it to John before I could share it with the blog-o-sphere.

When we met, I had red hair. Of all the colours I’ve had in the last few years, red was Johnathan’s favourite, and more than once he has asked me about going red again. I always protested, arguing that it’s too finicky to maintain and tends to be expensive as well. But I always secretly wanted to go red again, too.

Red 7-778

Red 7-778

So, I gave us both a surprise gift for Valentine’s: flaming copper locks.

Under the Granny dryer

Under the Granny dryer

Locality: Expressions Hair Design, Bayfield, Ontario

 

Expressions

Expressions is a charming combination of the unexpected and the vintage.

There’s nothing quite like sitting in a small local hair salon, as the stylist talks about children and parents and pets with the client seated in her chair. You get absorbed in the pretty people on the pages of Vanity Fair or House & Home as your hair colour steeps above your cape-clad shoulders and music plays just loud enough to prevent silence from reigning, and the conversation blends with the music to become a pleasant background buzz. Beautification is happening.

Beautification is happening

Natali at work: Beautification is happening

Beautification is essential for the modern woman, but a local, small-town salon where you know your stylist and there are no huge corporate endorsements hanging on the walls does something for the soul as well as the follicles.

Here at Expressions Hair Design in Bayfield, Ontario, the smell of peroxide and hair dye mingles with that warm breeze aroma of freshly blow-dried hair as owner and stylist Natali Tarnowski goes busily about her business of washing, cutting, drying, curling, and chatting.

Expressions is a gem hidden away in the side of one of the buildings on the heritage Main Street of Bayfield, and Natali is a gem of a proprietor. None of her clients, old or young, seem fazed by the young stylist’s close-cropped bright cherry red hair, the rose tattooed on her throat, her other tattoos and piercings, or her fantastically individual style: pastel tie-dyed t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up a-la-5o’s-greaser, and skinny dark grey jeans tucked into beige leather lace-up, pointy-toed boots.

Vintage cash register

Vintage cash register

Natali is the heart and soul of Expressions, but seated in her chair and listening to her talk, you’d think you were. I went in for a much-needed haircut (and surprise colour) today. It was only my second visit, but I now know why my friends from miles around head to Bayfield to get Natali to cut their hair: she’s sweet. And she’s good!

You can find Expressions Hair Design on Facebook, or call Natali at 519-565-5800 to make an appointment. Make sure to let her know that you read my blog. 🙂

I’ve gone Curly! (back to my roots…)

Now that you have Alan Jackson in your head or are groaning at my terrible pun, I should apologize. Sorry.

I think perhaps only the girls with naturally curly hair will get this post. Though we envy those with sleek, shiny, “perfect” hair, we always secretly wish we could sock it back to ’em with smooth, voluminous waves and corkscrews, preferably ones that we did not spend a lot of time and money on.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried every product you have ever heard of: serums, creams, masques, oils, mousses, gels, leave-in conditioners, or even goopy natural things like avocado or honey.

The cycle of frustration when a product eliminates only 50% of the frizz inevitably leads us back to the oh-so-wicked straighteners and blow-dryers, or even chemical straightening agents that make our own follicles unrecognizable to us for months or years at a time. Yikes.

Every now and then, you feel confident enough to go “natural”, but it rarely lasts long, at least not if you’re trying to look nice on a regular basis. If you don’t care, you just throw it up in a bun and hope it doesn’t make you look either adolescent or elderly.

old curly me

A previous installment of naturally "curly"

When I was about 22, a person I cared about nicknamed me Olive Oyl because of my perpetually-present topknot. One day, while flying from Canada through the States to Mexico, Ihad a layover at an American airport. I had left my hair down that day, and was very surprised at the difference in the attention I got from the waiter and the barista, etc. They smiled at me! I took note. And felt empowered. There was something in this whole hair-down thing, I realized!

That awareness didn’t come with any miraculous frizz-busters, though, so I renewed my efforts to find something that would allow me to appreciate my curl in a way that didn’t involve getting up two hours early or spending hundreds of dollars on chemical treatments.

another version of curly

Another attempt at curly

It wasn’t until this past December before I stumbled across what I think is the be-all, end-all for me and my curly-girl problems.

My magic solution? One word: conditioner.

A friend named Susan posted this article on Facebook a few months ago, and, after commenting about it a few times, thought, “what the heck?” and decided to try it.

The thing that continues to stand out to me about this article is the photograph of its author, Dahlia Kurtz:

https://i0.wp.com/lifewise.canoe.ca/Beauty/2011/11/29/HairCurls250.jpg

Unforgettable, right?

Perhaps it’s those “spring-lets” that inspired me, I can’t say. Either way, I tried it and haven’t gone back.

Sepia-toned Success!

Sepia-toned Success!

If you haven’t read the article yet, here’s what you need to know:

a) Skip the shampoo. You heard me. No more shampoo. Apparently it’s bad for your hair and bubbles ruin our water. If you’re weirded out about skipping shampoo, so some research into the healthy stuff.

b) Take a little dish of brown sugar into the shower with you, and mix it up with some conditioner in your palm to give your scalp a wee scrub in place of the shampoo.

c) Let the sugar & conditioner mix soak in while you finish your shower.

d) I do the application and rinsing of the sugar & conditioner with my head hung forward, hair flipped over it. It seems to encourage my curl.

e) Rinse, if you haven’t gotten that bit already.

f) Wrap in either a micro-fibre towel or an old t-shirt to soak up the water. Don’t rub it with the towel. Be gentle!

g) While still wet, mix some more conditioner and some of your hair goop (my favourite is a curl cream, but I also use curl mousse), flip your hair forward again, and apply liberally. The more coarse your hair, the more goop you will need. It might take some trial and error to get a feel for how much you need, but you’ll get it!

h) For best results, blow-dry with a diffuser. If you don’t have a diffuser, not to worry: flip your hair forward and make sure your roots are good and dry. If your hair is heavy like mine, you might want to dry up some of the bulk of the wet hair, to encourage height and volume. I also try to use the “cool shot” feature on my hairdryer as much as possible – cool air does a great job of setting the hair and does less damage to it.

i) Enjoy!

A particularly fresh & voluminous curly

A particularly fresh & voluminous curly

Easy as pie!

If you decide to adopt this method, I wanna hear about it! Meanwhile, pass this on to all the curly girls you know – start a naturally curly revolution!

Who’s the Dirty Birdy?

I love the chance to snoop without repercussions. Don’t you?

Today, you get to snoop in my medicine cabinet. Heck, I’ll even give you a tour.

Behold, the medicine cabinet of a girl living alone:

Medicine Cabinet

Yes, this cabinet is not the prettiest one you’ve ever seen. It needs some new paint, and, well, it needs to be cleaned. There you go – some dirt on me!

Top shelf, left to right:

  • Stub of a candlestick (faintly visible white thing). I have no idea why anyone would keep the stub of a candlestick. Perhaps in the event that the power goes out and I forget entirely how to get back to the rest of my apartment?
  • Sink plug which I only ever use if I need to soak something in the sink. What things I might soak in the sink I don’t want to say.
  • Vapo-Rub, or, should I say, Rexall’s Vapourizing Chest Rub. Yes, there are still people that have this product. No, I don’t use it. Hardly ever, anyway. But I do have some very comforting memories of my mom heating flannel cloths in the oven on cold winter nights, rubbing our chests with Vick’s Vapo-Rub, and then tucking a warm cloth between the mentholated goop and our pj’s. Ahhh.
  • Matches. To light the candle stub, of course. Ahem.
  • Two cheap-o plastic containers that contain a bunch of junk I never use and practically never look at, including white nail polish, tongue studs from way back when, dental floss (don’t tell my dentist), and old cheap earrings. Oh, and nail clippers, which I do tend to use regularly.

Middle shelf:

  • The tiny white package on the very left is a sample from Sephora that I haven’t opened yet. I may never open it.
  • Thus begins the gamut of my skin care regimen by Aloette (which I really enjoy and would definitely recommend): the night cleanser (Essential Cleansing Oil), which does a bang-up job of taking off make-up, too.
  • Toner is next. I am so fascinated with how the cotton pad can come off that particular shade of scuzzy grey, even after I have just washed and rinsed my face.
  • That lovely light pink stuff is actually body lotion, called Hand and Body Silk. It’s pretty fantastic: smells refreshing, rather than perfume-y, and is especially nice if you use it as a shaving lotion on your legs, though I’ll warn you that it will clog your razor.
  • Crammed in next to each other there are lotions, one for day and one for night. I use the lotion for day, because otherwise my face gets too oily. The creme is for night – it’s thicker. Yes, I do think it’s worthwhile to have two creams, especially during the winter, when skin tends to get a bit scaly. A thick night cream helps prevent that flaky skin that I tend to get around my nose when I have a cold.
  • Tucked in behind the lotions is Moroccan Oil, the newest addition to my beauty arsenal. It’s a very popular hair product that many swear by, though I’m not convinced it’s for me. Shame, because it cost me about $40.
  • The tiny tube is eye cream. I’m guilty of not using it every day, even though my mother said I should. It’s just one extra step that I keep thinking isn’t really necessary… yet. When I get crow’s feet, I will wish I had been putting it on every day since turning 5.
  • The small bottle with a pump is called Time Repair Serum. I think it’s to prevent my skin from aging, but in the meantime, I feel like it helps keep my skin nice and smooth. Or maybe that’s the same thing.
  • Behind the Time Repair is Visible Aid, a first-aid cream that really does a great job at helping heal cuts and scrapes and burns.
  • Thus ends the Aloette parade. Next in line is a character that needs no introduction, other than: “nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea,” the latter of which, of course, a lady never gets.
  • Last and certainly least used seeing as how it’s redundant, another toner, this time by Aveeno. From when I used to use an Aveeno cleansing regimen. I presume it won’t go bad…

Bottom shelf:

  • Avon “moisture effective” eye makeup remover lotion: a staple practically since I started wearing makeup. It’s cheap and effective, so why switch it up? In case you’re interested, I found out yesterday that it’s on sale for $0.99 right now! Time to call your Avon lady…
  • Hidden in the back left corner is a shine product for my hair which I obviously never use. But should, no doubt.
  • Next is something that could be slightly embarrassing because it’s not something most people would buy: a crystal deodorant stick. I got it from a health food store, then stopped using it because, well, I like Degree antiperspirant a lot, and had always used it. But, a couple of VIPs in my life reminded me that it’s worth it to not smell “shower clean” in exchange for using something that hasn’t been linked with breast cancer (antiperspirant, FYI). So, I made the switch, and only use antiperspirant if I have forgotten deodorant somehow. It’s different, sure, and has no smell, but it really works, and I feel much better about the whole scenario. Worth a try, both for men and women!
  • After that whole diatribe about MY deodorant, here’s a spare stick for my boyfriend. Sometimes, you just need an extra dab or two.
  • Clearly, my cotton supplies are low. Typically, those three jars contain, from left to right, cotton pads, Q-tips, and cotton balls. I need a trip to the drugstore.
  • The bottle in the corner with the pink on it is an ear-care product that has gotten me through several infections. Available at Claire’s, I believe.
  • And front right, a generic cream to help heal scars. Exotic, right?

There you have it: a sneak peek inside my medicine cabinet. Nothing crazy. And now you don’t have to worry about being caught in the act someday when I throw a dinner party and put marbles inside the medicine cabinet to embarrass the snooper. YOU’RE the “dirty birdy”, not me (thanks, Clinton Kelly, for that fabulous idea).

A Rant for the Scantily Clad

I get wanting to look sexy. I do. But isn’t there a line? Does anyone else think there’s a line between sexy and naked?

I fear that too few girls and women these days (yup, Imma throw out a “these days”) know where that line is. Either that or they don’t care. Either that or I’m the one that’s confused, and what looks sexy to me is really the equivalent of wearing a floor-length flannel nightgown, and what looks naked to me is prim and proper evening attire.

“But we’re young!”

So being young exempts you from respecting yourself?

“But we’re young and stupid!”

I’ll give you the stupid part. Wait – you made it into one of Canada’s best universities, so you can’t really be stupid.

“But we’re young and stupid and DRUNK!”

Ah. With alcohol involved, nothing matters. Especially your self-respect.

“Well…. we’re horny. So… You know.”

So you’re willing to look like you don’t respect yourself, put all your goodies on display for guys you don’t know, freeze your toes off wading through snow in your heels and bare legs, spend a lot of money on booze and cabs, feel like crap the next day, not to mention doing exactly what every other girl around you is doing, just for a chance at getting rubbed up against by an equally drunk and stupid stranger?

“But everyone–“

–is doing it? Sorry, hon, but that is a very old and clichéd line.

There’s something going on here that has to do with gender stereotypes and patriarchal values and the effect of the media, but without delving into much of the academic stuff, I wanna ask about something along the lines of myth and ideology: doesn’t it make you feel dirty, putting yourself on display like that in exchange for something temporary and meaningless? Don’t you know that you’re the one getting the short end of the stick?

I get wanting to feel sexy, wanting to look sexy.

What I don’t get is wanting to wear less clothes than a prostitute while paying for your own booze, then giving it all away to a random guy, for free.

“But we don’t pay for our drinks – the random guys buy them.”

WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO?! Clearly nothing else matters.

The Best Red

This may be the prettiest shade of red ever. In the realm of nail polish, I mean. It’s that perfect tone of cherry red. It’s even called “Cherry”!

It also cost about $4. From Joe Fresh. Go figure!

Today is only day 2, so I’m not sure o it’s staying power, but I’m hoping that the OPI base & top coats I used will help with that.

20111213-225408.jpg

Interrupting This Study Session to Bring you… Aurora Borealis

I am studying for an exam on Sunday. The course is called The Meaning of Technology, and this study session has me trying to dig deeply into topics like cyberspace and nanotechnology and what it means to be a cyborg–fascinating yet somewhat frightening topics.

As I study, TweetDeck brings me a steady stream of tweets about Canadian news, Canadian politics, American politics, what Ellen DeGeneres is up to, Kanye West‘s latest whacky thought, and the once-in-a-lifetime award my school (University of Western Ontario) has just received: we are fourth on Playboy’s list of top ten party schools in North America. Wa-freakin’-hoo.

My eyes stray back and forth from my notes to the TweetDeck notifications, hoping for something juicy, funny, thought-provoking, some worthy distraction (who are we kidding–they’re ALL worthy distractions when you’re studying!). Then, one Huffington Post tweet catches my eye, and my interest.

It’s a “Green” blog article, one of the few HuffPost pages I don’t follow… yet. The blog post isn’t so much a blog post as a collection of videos of the amazing natural phenomenon Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights.

The video wouldn’t show on Firefox, and, so fascinated was I about the prospect of seeing a video of the famed but elusive Northern Lights, that I even lowered myself to opening Safari, which, of course, complied with my command to “Play!” the video.

Sometimes, nature is worth checking out of “reality” for. Sometimes, sacrificing some time from all of our responsibilities and duties and busyness to marvel at how these phenomena come to be is worth it.

Presenting: Aurora Borealis (turn up the volume)

(and you’ll need a browser other than Firefox, it seems. sorry. :s)

To see the rest of the Huffington Post’s choices: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/13/aurora-borealis-2011-northern-lights-video_n_848638.html#s264018

Spring has Sprung 2011! – a set on Flickr

 

 

This past weekend I had the pleasure of walking around the bed and breakfast/inn where I work and marveling at the spring flowers popping out everywhere. Aren’t they amazing?!

 

Spring has Sprung2011! – a set on Flickr.

How Freakin’ Fabulous Am I? (rhetorical question)

There are a few things I’d like to say:

1. I suck for having procrastinated from writing for ever so long. You may not care, but I know the truth: I officially suck for not taking the time to record all of the freakin’ fabulous thoughts I’ve had over the last several months. Some of the blame can be laid on the following inconsequential pastimes: work, two bands plus other music projects, and being there for my family.

2. While I initially anticipated the arrival of winter with fear and trepidation, now that it has been asserting its climatic domination of my area for weeks, I’ve mostly gotten used to it. I had some noteworthy help from a few contributors: the Fionas (my amazing knee-high, sexy black leather boots), elbow-length black leather gloves, snow tires, and CAA, with an honourable mention to hemp hearts and espresso.

3. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I have a new bible that has very little to do with spirituality but everything to do with great taste. As happens with many great things, I stumbled upon this book in a local store that I hadn’t set foot in for a long while, and I can’t get enough of it. My new bible is written by What Not To Wear‘s Clinton Kelly, and it’s called: Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally be Better Than Everyone Else.

Clinton’s approach is very humourous, but truly, truly fabulous. These pages are chock-full of common-sensical advice, from how to match patterns to how-to recipes for great appetizers to good manners. I love it, and possibly not platonically! I’ve been accused of being too proper, caring too much about grammar, and being picky about lighting, and now I find myself vindicated by Mr. Kelly. Alleluia!

I simply can’t leave it at that, I’m sorry. This book will likely stay on my coffee table for decades to come, and all of you who care will be able to leaf through it and glean its wisdom for yourself. Honestly, where else can you find all of this basic good advice in one very fun, well-published, entertaining format?

This is the book that I’ve been waiting to discover for all of my adult life. Or, at least since I discovered how fabulous one can be and my true potential for achieving it.

A great paragraph:

When throwing a party, you must sanitize and guest-proof your bathroom. If the bathroom that will be used by your guests is not absolutely spotless, you will quickly get a reputation as a dirty birdy. And then, nobody will eat the food you’ve made because they’re afraid of catching hepatitis.

Just sayin’: great writing, right?

Here’s another tidbit:

If chopping onions makes you cry, hold a few unlit matches in your mouth. The sulfur is supposed to absorb some of the onion fumes. You can also hold a slice of white bread in your mouth. Either way, you’ll look like an idiot. Also, try throwing the onion in the freezer for a bit before you chop it. The colder the onion, the less fumes. Personally, I don’t mind a good cry. In fact, if I cry while chopping the onions, I’ll run to the bathroom mirror and recite one of my favorite lines from Poltergeist: “Don’t you touch my babies!!!” It’s the part where the kids are being sucked into the bedroom closet for the second time and JoBeth Wiliams is at HER WIT’S END! It’s very dramatic. (Hi, JoBeth, if you’re reading this!!!)

I mean, come on! Mixing great advice with self-deprecating humour and pop-culture references? What could be better in a self-help book?

4. I have to go now. I have some more reading to do before I’ll be ready to host any freakin’ fabulous Christmas parties. Ta Ta.