Fitness Friday | I've Slacked Off But Love My Green Monsters

When was the last time I did a fitness Friday? 


Yeah, I thought so. For a brief recap:
  • Exercise: January, I finished strong with my 3 workouts per week but fell off terribly this month. I worked out a total of five times this entire month.
  • Diet: I really need to go back to tracking my calories...but..... I really despise the task. I am anal. I like to be precise. I like to eat my homemade meals without having to spend 10-15 minutes inputting all the details in myfitnesspal. I did dabble with the app a few times in the past week and realized in order for me to be more successful, I need to simplify my staple menus so I am not caught up scanning my entire refrigerator for each meal I prepare. I figure if I can rotate among 5-7 staple recipes that I have added and saved in the app, then when it comes to tracking my meals, I don't have to keep creating new recipe entries. Just a thought...
  • Water: I bought a new water bottle, which has helped a lot with my intake. However, I still need to drink more water. The app I am using (rather halfway using)-Water Your Body-is okay, but there have been plenty of days where I just ignored the notifications on my phone and not log in a single drop of water. For a ballpark guess though, I am averaging approximately 5-6 cups per day.
So as you can see, things have been blah for me physically this past month, which have also affected me mentally. I have some body image issues on top of hovering over the overweight BMI category for my height. Yes, I am slightly discouraged, but I know that I can push through this rut if choose to do so in my mind first. Because honestly the culprit for my performance (or the lack of) is the absence of dedication. Point blank. I really don't have any legitimate excuses except for the fact I chose not to make my physical wellness a priority.

But then there's that beautiful grace. The one that says I can get up from where I am and press forward. 

Therefore, this week, I have been focusing on increasing my veggie/fruit intake, which is kind of a big thing since I am vegetarian (slash leaning toward pescetarian because I do love salmon and tuna). I made a huge batch of detox soup (inspired by a recipe from the Oh She Glows Cookbook) that includes a melting pot of ingredients. The best part is that Z absolutely loooooves this soup! I mean, I can put beets, turnips, Brussels sprouts, onions, kale, broccoli, mushrooms, chickpeas, and etc and she would eat it up to the last drop and request for more. This brings me joy that she enjoys so many veggies that some children (and adults) would balk at the mere sight. So each serving of this soup gives me 2.5 cups of veggies. On top of that, I committed myself to drinking a green monster smoothie each morning this week, and I succeeded! 

My base ingredients for my smoothie are:
  • 1 cup of cashew or almond milk
  • 2 handfuls of spinach or baby kale mix
  • cucumber
  • 1 banana
  • 7 baby carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of PB or 1/4 cup of cashews
  • half a scoop of pea protein powder
These ingredients alone make a good tasting smoothie that is not too thick nor thin and not too sweet (but not too bland). I have added frozen strawberries, peaches, and blueberries in my smoothies so far and have found them to be really filling. I learned quick that as long as I remember to rinse my blender IMMEDIATELY after use, I am good to go (because I really dislike washing a dirty caked up blender). One tip I have read is to swish the smoothie around the mouth really quick before swallowing in order to allow the enzymes from the saliva to help break down essential nutrients in the smoothie for better digestion and absorption. Just make sure you don't walk out with bits of spinach between your teeth!

So this is my general recap of my fitness progress since my last update. I am still making out the plans for March, which is so right around the corner. I am hoping to return to make 3 workouts per week next month. I need the physical activity badly!

How have your fitness progressed since the beginning of the year? Making good strides? Struggling? Fell off? What are your plans to make this healthy lifestyle better work for you?

Fitness Friday

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Unofficial Winter 2015 Break Recap | Indoor Edition

Being away from school has been both a challenge for Z and me these past two weeks. For her, she's bummed about missing her specials (art, music, p.e., science) and recess. For me, my schedule is all thrown out of whack. I just have to keep myself grounded on the fact that this is a temporary situation. Fortunately being the crafty momma I am, I had some ideas in mind to help curb the winter blues in my active and very inquisitive 5 year old in a way that kept me pretty sane *for the most part*. This post is the indoor edition. {see this post of our outdoor recap}

I am quite artistic. I loved drawing growing up as an expressive outlet when my words just couldn't speak, and I love it now when the opportunity presents itself (currently quite rare). One thing Z has been interested in more and more is drawing people. On countless sheets of paper, she draws herself with nature, with me, with daddy, with family, with her teacher, with friends, with Jesus, with whoever. I figured I would expand her skills by introducing her to portraits. I showed her some mistakes beginners tend to make when drawing portraits and explained to her step by step how to draw a more proportionate face via a simple tutorial found on Pinterest. Her little brain made a connection quick because ever since our two hour lesson last week, she has been drawing her portraits with so much more detail than before. #artistintraining #itstartswithaseed #Godwillwaterit

Then we moved on to science. She saw this egg and vinegar experiment on one of those PBS shows one weekend as I did her hair, and it stuck with her ever since. Finally, earlier this week, we got around to doing it:

This experiment was interesting, gross, and weird. She wanted to do it again and I kindly told her maybe another time. ::smile:: #maybeshewillforget #itscoolifshedoesnt

For p.e., she has been doing a series of 2-5 minute videos found on including kids Zumba, role playing activities with silly catchy songs, and yoga. She was introduced to this website via her class when they take 5 minute brain breaks throughout a given day when the kids get a little restless. She mentioned it to me way before last week, but I had no clue what she was talking about. Now, after seeing how engaged she has been with this website, I am all for it (it doesn't hurt to have an incentive of growing her virtual pet based on how active she has been on the site). #literallyitmakeshersweat

For music, we did not do anything special because normally we sing, make up silly songs, and play music a lot already. 

Aside from these things, we also did the following (not inclusive):
  • math activity involving fractions and measuring cups/spoons
  • games: cards (classics such as Go Fish, Old Maid, Snap, Crazy Eights, War and I even introduced her to Uno), Chutes and Ladders, and Trouble (our new family favorite)
    • Will note that her sportsmanship has improved. Being an only child and losing can be quite a feat to take gracefully, but she's getting there. She now congratulates the winner without going extreme and feeling like she will never win. Oh how I understand the extremist mindset, Z. Taking it step by step.
  • reading (easy readers, flash cards, introducing the concept of compound words)
  • free play (because it is good that I get a break to handle adult things and to help foster independent/creative play)
  • crafts (made bracelets, necklaces, painted, made window decals)
  • (great for emergent readers and preschoolers)
And when push came to shove and I really needed to get something done, I allowed Z to watch an hour of TV for a couple of days she's been home. Of course she happily obliged and was still as a rock for an hour. Bless her heart that after the second show, she knows to cut off the TV. How long does this behavior last? #grateful #obedient My husband and I are not TV people so we just have the basic channels and lots of DVDs. I like to reserve TV when styling her hair and this has worked out well for her (and me) for 3 years now although she is slightly moving on to games on our phones or word search puzzles.

Of course, an unofficial break would not be complete without a new smile! Z lost her third tooth today. Of course she did not want to pull it out and had me to do the honor. If daddy was awake, I totally would have had him do it, but I survived. She hyped me up by telling me to flex my muscles and pull. lol #suchagoodsport

Now she can go to school on Monday with a different beautiful smile than the one she had before her break. Awh, she is growing up! We don't do the tooth fairy thing here so she exchanged her tooth for money from her dad. lol

With the weather turning for the better, our plans this weekend will be related hair involved so we can get back on track for March. For those of you with little ones out of school because of this weather, I hope you are managing well. It is not easy by no means, but we are striving...

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Unofficial Winter 2015 Break Recap | Outdoor Edition

Today is school day cancellation number 7 with tomorrow marked as number 8 after receiving word from the district's communications rep this afternoon. Bless her heart for making all those announcements. We do have inclement weather days built in the school calendar, but they have already been accounted for with four days still on the cutting board. Many parents are highly upset (which is understandable as it relates to work) and older kids and families are very concerned about risking Spring Break plans to make up for lost educational time. But we all know that everyone cannot be pleased. Either risk taking kids to school on the bus and getting in an accident (where the parents are ready to sue) or risk missing a day for naught because the weather turned out okay. Better safe than sorry in my opinion. The best thing for us all is to make the best of the situation.

Our unofficial winter timeline...

It all started last Sunday when we received a call for a half day on Monday (16th) due to some upcoming snow (in which it did but not much). However, with very low temperatures in store and living in the South, that amounted to icy roads and a statewide shutdown (because obviously we are not equipped down here to handle such weather situations without accidents). Although our side of the county was pretty clear road wise as the days passed, some parts of the area still had icy roads. Therefore, schools continued to be closed for the remainder of the week. 

In the meanwhile, daddy and Z managed to build Olaf last Tuesday (17th) with about an inch of snow of the ground #kudos:

The next day (18th) after finishing shopping, Z and I were caught in a 15 minute heavy blizzard. Then the sun came out...#random:

Fortunately, things cleared up nicely for school this past Monday. Kids were happy, parents were happy, teachers looked happy. lol All seemed well until the forecast called for another storm system on Tuesday. So Z and I headed to the library to check out a boatload of books. On Tuesday, we got just enough snow to dust the ground white and by yesterday late morning, things were pretty much cleared...I mean, we saw grass! The sun was out, the 40s felt great for this Southern gal, and I was chirping along doing some mid week shopping. As I checked out at one of the stores, a woman mentioned 5-6 inches of snow coming our way in a few hours. Huh? Clearly, I didn't check the weather often enough. I was really blindsided by the storm that came through last night dumping between 6-7 inches of snow in our area. Praise God we still made it to bible study safely and back before the snow literally poured down.

I talked to my parents via text. They live in SC and only received lots of rain from last night's system. I stayed up for awhile to catch up on some blogging and periodically peered outside to witness the beautiful snow. This is what I like: snow...pure plain snow. Not the icy, slippery stuff. Nah.

This morning, Z and I went to try our hand at making a super big snowman. First we had to check out the scene:

Then we went out to the tennis courts to plunder through the cleaner snow there (until a neighbor walked his dog around the perimeter leaving poop along the gates...eww). Anyway, after 1.5 hours later, here's the final result of our snowman (after some of Z's friends contributed at the final stages):

After deserting our marvelous creation, Z and I threw some really solid snow balls at each other. She tried to make a snow angel, but it was muddy underneath the snow and mommy can only handle but so much So she had to get up. ::smiles gracefully:: We ran around a lot, which was great activity for me because honestly, I have worked out only twice in two weeks. Eeek! Yes, I have been slacking. 

Reflecting on last year, a similar weather pattern happened in NC. We got a little snow storm followed by a bigger one. The only reason I remembered this was that we built a puny snow man the first time followed by a nice hip hop version of frosty with a lean. Oh, if I ever find a picture, I will surely post it! I wonder if this will be the norm for NC? Guess we will find out in due time, God willing.

How is your area weather wise? Are you sitting nice on the West Coast or feeling our cold pain over on the East Coast?

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February Mini Updo Challenge | Updo #4

For my final style in the February mini challenge, I opted to go back to basics with a simple bun and bangs. Because of my current situation as explained in my wash day post, I just did not feel like fooling around with my hair. I did a similar style last month and was pleased how easy it was to recreate this bun look. {see style + pictorial here}

I love having a bang section because I can change up a basic hairstyle into various looks. Yesterday, I wore a flat twist out bang pinned under. Later on today, I plan to wear the bang flat twisted but twisted and pinned to the side as shown below:

On Friday, I will probably wear a pompadour bang before washing my hair.

I really have enjoyed this challenge co-hosted by Yemi @ Great Lengths. I can't wait to see what next month's challenge will entail. Nevertheless, I do want to continue incorporating protective styling in my regimen for the month of March.

To see my other styles:

I will do a February Style Recap post soon. To see my styles from January {see this post}.

How are you wearing your hair this final week in February?

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Wash Day | Snowy Days = Co-wash + Bun

Oh, today is day 6.

This is the amount of days school has been cancelled for Z in relation to the winter storms lately IN THE SOUTH. Go figure! Tomorrow has already been called in because currently winter storm Remus is in the process of laying out inches of snow here in NC. We could get up to a foot by morning!

So while I have been MIA around the social scene, me and Z have been kicking it in the real world. Just like the old times before she started Kindergarten. Only this time, she wants to go back to school so she can learn, go to her specials, and see her teachers and friends. Me too, sister, me too. But we have been just fine doing science experiments, art lessons, cooking, workouts, cleaning, shopping, and whatever else other than anything hair related. I confess that our hair has been on the back burner as we cope with our schedule changes. 

So what's the real deal with our hair? We both need a good washing. Z is still sporting her cornrow bunhawk style, which is on its final leg. :-) I finally mustered up some energy last night to take down my last updo and pre-poo, co-wash, and style my hair. All in under 2 hours (including the 1 hour pre-poo). More specifically:
  • Pre-poo: Giovanni Smooth as Silk Deeper Moisture Conditioner + Hot Head Cap + 1 hour
  • Condition: Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner
    • Lightly detangled my hair. I did not have the patience for a thorough detangling session.
  • Moisturize: SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie + Olive Oil
  • Style: 
    • I sectioned an area in the front on my head for bangs.
    • Used Aloe Vera Gel to slick down the remainder of my hair into a mid-level puff using one of my diy elastic bands. 
    • Loosely twisted my puff into 8 jumbo twists and pinned them under to create a chunky bun. 
    • Added four flat twists to my bang section going toward my hair line and bantu knotted the ends. 
    • Tied hair down overnight
    • The next morning, I unraveled bantu knots to create a full bang. 
    • I loosely twisted the bang and pinned under to protected the ends.
This is how the style turned out:

I am ecstatic because I did not need any pins to secure my hair for this style. This is probably because I added big bangs but still. I did a similar style last month sans the bangs and I must say, I really like the ease of this bun especially since my hair is about 5-7 inches long.

I plan on wearing this bun until this weekend when *hopefully* I can do a full out wash session. I am thinking about doing a protein treatment this time around since my last one was near the beginning of January. I also have to wash Z's hair this weekend, but I only plan to thread her into a wearable style for a week before actually braiding her hair.

Here's the lost hair this time around: 

This is about right after not touching my hair for about 1.5 weeks.

How was your wash day? Share it at the following link up:

The Wash Day Experience

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Wash Day Update | Co-Wash + Another Updo

This was day was so short (outside of the pre-poo and including styling) compared to many others in my past. I started around 8:45 and was done by 11:30pm. I was a happy camper for managing two shorter than usual styling sessions on a single day. {see Z's current style}
  • Pre-poo: Suave Professionals Almond + Shea Butter Conditioner, 60 minutes under Hot Head Cap. Rinsed and t-shirt dried for 5 minutes.
  • Tea Rinse: One bag of green tea + 3 drops of peppermint essential oil in 2 cups of water, rinsed scalp 5 times. T-shirt dried for 10 minutes.
    • I typically only tea rinse on shampoo wash days, but I am going to start incorporating them every wash day to help soothe my scalp (if I remember).
  • Conditioner: Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner. Detangled with fingers and Knot Genie.
  • Final Rinse: Aloe Vera Juice + Olive Oil, did a final rinse to get remove excess oil from hair.
  • Moisturizer: SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-In + Olive Oil
  • Style: Added SheaMoisture Hold & Shine Mist + Homemade Flaxseed Gel to each section before twisting. 

The days have been really cold here in the South lately so I have been either wearing my hair in my beanie or wearing a headband with my bangs flat twisted and pinned. Today and tomorrow are going to bring some record lows so hopefully Z and I can get out for a little while today to get a few things done and check out some new books from the library to read. Poor child is so bummed about another school day cancellation (me too!). We will see what tomorrow brings especially if the ice does not melt or is not cleared from the roads for kids to travel safely to and from school on the bus/car. 

Hope everyone is keeping warm! How was your latest wash day experience?

The Wash Day Experience

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February Mini Updo Challenge | Updo #3 in 1 Hour

This is week 3 of the updo challenge presented by Yemi over at Great Lengths, and it is another twist and pin variation. {see week 1 | week 2 updos} However, this style only took me 1 hour to complete from start to finish! Now that's a record for me. The secret? Chunky twists (about 20) and lots of bobby pins.

This style was inspired by a post I saw over at Adventures of a Nappy Chica. Jackie shared a style that she recreated from a tutorial done by Jenell @ Kinky Coily Curly Me. As I watched her tutorial, I liked how the updo was simple in concept and did not require a lot of twists to make the style look full. Plus Jackie did a great job with it on her own hair so I was convinced! I wanted to try this style last week, but got carried away and did way too many small twists (which would have made pinning for this updo a pain in the butt). 

Of course I love my bangs. Here's how this week's updo turned out:

This week is going to be brutal here in the South...lows in the single digits??? Yeah, we will have the fire burning over the next several nights. Today, Z had a 3 hour early release with a possibility of either no school tomorrow or a delay if we get the 1 inch or less snow that is called for this afternoon. #Southernlivinginthewinter #shutdown 

So, I probably will keep my head under wraps most of this week especially while out:

I cannot stand cold ears...::shivers:: :-)

What's your hair status this week? Do you protective style more in the colder weather?

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Cornrow & Twisted Bunhawk | Quick + Simple Protective Style

Simple, simple, simple! That was my goal this past Saturday when I sat down to style Z's hair. I told myself I was not going to spend more than two hours on her hair, and lo and behold, I accomplished just that!

Lately, I have been on a pursuit to find easy styles to do on Z's hair that are: 1) protective, 2) take less time to finish, and 3) can last for a week. The first style I found online was the bunhawk and was impressed by the simplicity of the style from two YouTube videos I watched. Right after, I knew this was the next style to be done on Z's hair. However, me being me, I switched it up and braided cornrows going into the buns. Without the braids, this style would have easily taken me under an hour to complete.

The process went as follows:
  1. Removed threads from the ghana plaits she wore last week into a bun. {read more about no-heat stretching}
  2. Using the parts from her previous style as a starting point, I straighted out the parts so that she had three horizontal sections plus a section for a side bang. 
  3. Lightly combed out the sections with a wide tooth comb.
  4. Moisturized her hair: Lightly sprayed each section with homemade spritz, applied SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave-in, sealed with oil, and applied homemade flaxseed oil for hold.
  5. Starting at the back, I cornrowed two cornrows on each side for each section. The loose ends were twisted. I did this for each section and ended with 6 cornrows on each side. I twisted the bang section to the side.
  6. Gathered 4 twists into a nylon band, twisted them together, and pinned the back section up and over to create the bottom bun.
  7. Repeated the same process for the middle and top bun sections except I pinned the twists down and under.
  8. Lightly sprayed her hair with SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Hold and Shine Mist.

Here are a few more pictures:

My cornrowing skills are not the best (I can be quite slooooow), but I loved how this style came out. I saved a couple of hours doing large cornrows instead of my usual small cornrows, which is very much appreciated by both me and Z. She loved the style as well as denoted by her thumbs up after running to her bathroom to do a style check once I was

A style to add to my quick and simple style arsenal. So happy!

What are some of your favorite quick styles to do on your girl's hair?

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Results of No Heat Stretching with African Threading

Although I like banding as a no heat stretching option, African threading gives more of a uniformed stretch to her hair especially when I want to braid/cornrow Z's hair. Plus, the threads are easier to remove from her hair than the bands. But don't despair, banding is not banned from our no-heat regimen for good...this method is still a really good option for styling hair in twists on stretched hair to show some length.  Now that her hair is long enough, I am able to get the added benefit of having her hair put into a threaded style for a week before actually doing another style.

Last week, Z wore Ghana Plaits (via African Threading) in a bun to keep her hair stretched throughout the week. This past Saturday, I took down her plaits in preparation for a different hairstyle for her to wear for this week.{inspired by this cute bunhawk style}

Here's her hair before I removed the threads:

Here's her hair during...see the nice "no heat" stretch once I lightly combed through the section:

Here's her hair after I finally removed all the threads and sectioned it:

Z's hair is so thick in the middle section; I can tell that her hair been filling in so much more since last year. Her strands are still fine but her density is medium for the back two-thirds of her head and a little less dense in the front area of her head (just like mine). 

What is your favorite no-heat stretching method?

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Style Update | Curly Twist Out Puff with Bangs

This is just a quick update to my curly twist out style that I wanted to share. This style was really simple to do and only took 10 minutes from start to finish last night. What I did was:
  • lightly moisturize my hair with SheaMoisture Curl & Style Milk + seal with olive oil
  • section off some hair for bangs
  • divide the remaining hair into two sections
  • use my diy elastic bands to create two curly puffs close to each other
  • fluff puffs to fill in gaps and make them slightly fuller and uniform
  • add just a little bit of flaxseed gel on edges and tie down with a scarf overnight

Here are some other angles of my curly twist out puff hairstyle:

Hope everyone has a great and safe Saturday. Happy Valentine's Day!

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Style Update | The Curly Twist Out Using Flexi-Rods

As much as I love my simple and low maintenance twist and pin up hairstyles, a twist out here or there is rarely our of the question. I wore my latest updo for 6 days and would have gone an extra day or two, but I was inspired by KLP from Saving Our Strands and her curly dos. Although I am not at the level where I can neatly curl my loose hair, curling my twists is nothing but a breeze for me. I only own flexi-rods because they are generally comfortable for both me and Z to sleep with overnight. 

To install the curls, I simply spritzed my hair lightly (key!) with my aloe vera juice + water mix and sealed with a little bit of olive oil. I took 3 twists at a time and wrapped the ends around one end of the rod several times to secure them before rolling the rest of the twists up to the roots and bending the other end of the rod down to keep it in place. I did not roll tightly nor did I have any particular method behind the direction of the rods. I am such a lazy carefree stylist at times. ::shrugs:: :-) I covered my hair with my bonnet and slept...good.

This morning, I used the follow two products to remove the flexi-rods and style my curls:

I separated the twists from each clump of curl and proceeded to untwist each twist for a curly twist out. After some slight manipulation and a few pins to gently pin back the sides, I had a nice and shiny curly twist out hairstyle in under 20 minutes. To add some volume, I fluffed up my roots especially around my crown area. Here are some angles of the final look:

Originally I was going to co-wash my hair tonight, but I am going to sport these curls for another day and put them in a curly puff or updo. It has been years since I have curled my hair so I am going to enjoy my curls for a little bit longer. 

What special hair plans do you have for tomorrow? 

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