wellness

Wellness is not exclusive

This week Kourtney Kardashian unveiled her new lifestyle and wellness site, Poosh. Well this brought up all kinds of feels for me and so I thought it was time I finally tackled the topic of wellness elitism.

My first impressions of the Poosh website was that it did a good job tackling a variety of topics, but was disappointed in the depth of the articles. I was impressed to see ”Tapping into your spiritual side” but was unsatisfied with the 3 uninspired paragraphs on the topics that really made one valid suggestion. It seems like they are attempting to grow their content and adding other authors which will be sure to increase the quality of the content, but in the meantime, it seems like Poosh is not really filling any void in the market. There is no shortage for lifestyle content, and I expected more than fluff. Beyond that, in true Kardashian fashion, they are perpetuating an unattainable body image. “An instant butt lift with Coach Joe” and “How to look good naked”–their headlines alone imply you need to change how you look. Beyond that, there are almost-naked photos of Kourtney of everywhere.

But this post was not meant as a critic of Poosh, or the Kardashians (not that they don’t deserve some critiquing!). When I read the name “Poosh” (apparently it’s so named for the nickname of one of Kourtney’s children) it immediately made me think of “Bloosh” the lifestyle trend app featured in a few episodes of the show Parks and Recreation. The CEO of Bloosh, Annabel Porter is maybe my favorite depiction of the absurdity that the wellness community espouses at times. A great example of this is from the episode “Recall Vote” she mentions that “in her home, they do not eat meals. They have ‘food teases,’ such as oat wedges and seaweed lozenges.” Enough said, right? I have no evidence of this, but I always felt that the writer’s were using Gwyneth Paltrow and her wellness site/brand, Goop as their inspiration for unattainable wellness.

Now, Goop has expanded over the years, and has become more inclusive of a diversity of price points, but it’s elitism is really what makes it stand out as a brand. By touting high end skin care regimes, designer fashion, and unique (read expensive) travel destinations–it’s a lifestyle brand that’s foundation is built on aspirational living. And wellness is no exception– with Goop branded vitamin packs retailing at $90/month– Goop defines wellness as exclusive. I appreciate Goop’s unique content, but it is definitely not created to be accessible for all. As it’s founder, through out the years, Gwyneth Paltrow has been criticized for being out of touch with the masses and being unaware of her privilege.

While dear Gwynnie has been out in the stratosphere in terms of her connection to the “every woman”, there is another public figure that is even more disconnected than our dear Gwen.

… and that’s Amanda Chantal Bacon (the irony of her name is not lost on me), the founder of Moon Juice. Elle magazine published her food diary in 2015, and I reference it whenever I need a good laugh. She is the real life Annabel Porter. Her daily diet–from ho shou wu to Shilajit resin–consists of foods that most of the population have never even heard of. It’s next level elite, and that’s how it’s intended. Rare, globally sourced ingredients are a huge money maker.

This parody of the article also continues to make me chuckle (but read the article first!):

So we now have:

  • Poosh

  • the fake, “Bloosh”

  • Goop

  • and Moon Juice

…coincidence? I think not. I’m not exactly sure why double Os mean elite wellness, but there is definitely a trend here (not to mention Well + Good. You could take it a step further and include dominant tech giants, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook!).

But I digress. These three (real :)) women and their empires are built on sharing their elite standard of living with the masses. To quote my current muse, Jameela Jamil,

“Let’s get real about money for a second. Because money is the reason most people don’t look as thin and young as celebrities. These people have trainers, chefs, access to the best organic food, they have the best beauticians, staff to help them do everything, a MUCH less stressful life, the best doctors, many have talented surgeons, they have make up artists and hair stylists. And then ON TOP of that, they are airbrushed without telling you they are. You are being set up for a fall with this comparison porn culture. Swerve the lies and just do you.”

Calling attention to these extreme examples in the wellness community is important because they set an unrealistic expectation of what the average person can do to make their lives healthier. Beyond the sheer expense of living the way they do, they overcomplicate what it means to be healthy. You don’t have to live like the 1% to have a healthy existence. Icons like Kourtney and Gwyneth set an unrealistic example of what wellness is for the every woman. While drinking adaptogens and cordyceps every morning can make you feel awesome, not everyone has the means to add this into their diets daily. Superfoods are great, but by no means are they a requirement to live a healthy life!

As a person who owns a wellness based business, I like to show you new trends, but I never want anyone to feel like they can live a healthy lifestyle if they can’t use a certain product. Because it’s NOT TRUE!! Wellness is truly accessible to all.

“Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants” - Michael Pollan

Don’t let the wellness elite make you think it’s more complicated than that.

Finding balance: How to Juggle Healthy Eating, Exercise, Insanely Busy Work Life, a Seemingly Endless Social Calendar, and Planning a Wedding!

finding balance shed for the wed healthy eating exercise

If you read this headline and got very excited, well, I’m sorry to disappoint. Before you keep reading looking for the solve, know that there is no miracle solution to finding balance. “Work-life balance” is a myth. You just have one life. Work is a part of that life. It reminds me of what they used to say about working mothers– “she wants to have it all!” well the reality is you can’t have it ALL. Something will always feel like it is out of whack in some capacity. But what you can do is find routine and ritual to keep what matters most to you moving.

I decided to write this post because one of the most put together people I know was one of the people requesting it. If I couldn’t ask her to be a guest blogger on this topic, I was fairly certain there isn’t a clear answer.

This is coming from someone who searched for the answer for years! I remember my first real job out of college. I was working super late every night and really it was my first time really living on my own. I always felt too tired for the gym or to cook when I got home. I ordered takeout nonstop. I craved balance so badly. I kept saying there had to be another way. Well I can tell you, that led me to quit said job and move to another continent for a year in search of a better way of life. And I can say I learned a lot in that one year from the way that the Aussies live their lives in work and play. But moving to another continent is not really an option for most people, nor is it desired! The real question is how to make the life you have right now feel more ideal.

Here are my 3 steps to help you reclaim “balance” in your life.

1) Determine what feels off to you

If you are searching for balance that implies that something is imbalanced. Do you just feel like you are struggling to reach your goals? Do you feel exhausted with your current lifestyle? There is a tool I use with my one-on-one coaching clients called the Circle of Life. It helps you identify where you feel off in your current day-to-day life. What’s amazing is that it can change entirely from one week to the next. But it’s a great place to start if you are struggling to identify what feels off in your day to day. I’ve included it here for you, just because! Note: it includes a variety of facets to life. Those may be applicable to what comprises your circle, or you may need to make an adjustment to fit your life! Ask yourself, “what does balance mean to you?”

Do the exercise and see where your gaps come up for you right now!

2) Set a goal (or not)

Once you are clear on what is off, you can move forward deciding with what is most important that you would like to change. If goals are your thing, you could make yourself a goal to help correct the imbalance. Sometimes I feel like setting goals for everything takes away their power, so I would most likely give myself some weekly objectives (in my world they are different!) I would like to aim for.

An example of my weekly objectives: exercise 4x/week and meditating daily. I have check boxes in my planner for them both. I don’t always hit them, but that is okay too!

If it is something you really care about, you need to make it a priority. If you don’t really want to make it a priority, think about why that is. Maybe it’s that you feel like you should do something, but in your heart, you just don’t care. THAT IS 100% OKAY! But don’t beat yourself up about not working out everyday if it’s not something that you really don’t have any interest in prioritizing.

3) Be Prepared

Now that we are clear on where our imbalance lies, and what we would like to change, now it’s time to make sure it happens. If you have a typical 9-5 the weekend is a great way to get on top of it. Carve out time for yourself during the weekend or whenever your off days are. It’s easy to load up on social events, but make sure you have time for a bit of productivity. I have one friend who says “Sunday’s are sacred”– and it’s become my favorite phrase! For many people it’s meal planning and doing cooking for the week on Sundays. For others it’s plotting out and signing up for their work out classes for the week. Make that time a part of your ritual and then the Sunday scaries become empowering!

I’ll be honest with you, this step is my weakness. Because I work for myself, I’ve just gotten good at doing things that matter on the fly, and that works for me. I wouldn’t aim for that, but know that success looks different to everyone.

As I am all about the healthy eats, I will tell you the number one way to ensure success is to prepare in advance. The Shed nutrition plans have meal plans built in for 8 weeks. If you use one weekend day to really make meals in advance and portion things out for the week, you will be on the right track from the very beginning of the week! It’s all about making that a priority, if that is what matters to you!

Allowing for grace

For me, living intuitively within my body is the goal. I listen to my body and give it room to process. This goes for eating (I eat mindfully, and try to listen to the cues my body gives me) and exercise (if I’ve worked out 3 days in a row, and my muscles are telling me they need a break, I give them a break!). But it also is a part of the bigger picture in my life. Sometimes life is going to be madness, and you need to step it up to make everything come together. But then, you need to allow for time to recoup. We live in a world where productivity is the metric of living a successful life. We’ve been trained to think that way, but really, there is more to life than checking off every item on your to do list. If you don’t make it to the grocery store because you are spending time with people you care about and having meaningful connections with them, then you know what, I would consider that more productive than meal prepping for the week! It all comes down to what really matters to you. And depending on your phase of life this can fluctuate.

Why I love working with brides is because they have a definitive time frame to when they would like to reach their goals. They are highly motivated in the moment that they find me! That being said a bride’s goals and mindset is not the same as a new mother’s, etc. Each phase of life you are in, a new balance becomes clear. Allow yourself to be comfortable in the place that you are in right now!

There isn’t a one size fits all answer

Every individual has their own, unique set of challenges. This is why I have a coaching business and not just online programs that run without me. Because at the end of the day, finding that balance in our day to day lives is hard! Sometimes you need someone there to help you deal with your particular set of circumstances (the Shed platinum program is the best for this!). Following a program works for some people, but other people have more challenges that they need to overcome in order to reach their goals. Your experience is unique to you, and your job is to find what a balanced healthy lifestyle means in the context of your life!


So what does living a balanced life mean to you? Where do you prioritize your time? I want to hear! Leave me a note below or on Insta/FB. -AHS

Celery Juice

16oz of the good stuff!

16oz of the good stuff!

What is the celery juice fad? Why is everyone doing it?

The “global celery juice movement” has been popularized by the Medical Medium (MM). If you haven’t heard of him, there is lot to process there. As a medium, he receives all of his information from the “spirit of compassion” on the other side. Let me tell you, I am all into the woowoo. I don’t doubt that people can communicate with other planes, spirits, or even with God. But whenever there is too much celebrity involved (he has a whole half page of testimonials only from celebrities), I just get a little skeptical. I haven’t read any of his books, but I did read one of his diets when my step-dad was really sick and no one knew what was wrong with him for almost 2 years (he tried the diet for 3 weeks it didn’t help). While I have reservations about the Medical Medium himself, he touts the power of fruits and vegetables, and in that we are 100% aligned. I will cover the basics in this post, but to get a full understanding on all things celery juice from the main source, I recommend reading Celery Juice 101.

The basics

What to do:

Drink 8-16oz of fresh celery juice every morning before eating or drinking anything else. Wait 15-30 minutes before eating breakfast.

Use organic celery, and rinse it. I also cut off the ends. If using conventional celery, wash with clear fragrance-free dish soap. Juice it in a juicer, or blend and then filter through a cheese cloth. Drink up.

Working your way up to 16oz is advised, because it can have a cleansing effect (which is your body eliminating toxins). If you prepare in advance, it will only keep for 24 hours. Seal it in a mason jar with a lid.

What not to do:

If you do any of the following it will take away from the “medicinal properties”, per MM:

  • Make more than 24 hours worth in advance. It won’t keep.

  • Add anything else (ice, or other fruits or vegetables)

  • Drink with the fiber (like if you blended it and then skipped the filtering)


My experience

The process:

I drank the celery juice for about 6 days in total non-consecutively.

It was also recommended to me to use a blender and use a cheese cloth instead of a juicer. I never bought the cheese cloth so I just kept using my juicer. I love my juicer but it needs to be cleaned almost immediately after use– time consuming and annoying. Because of that I didn’t do it every morning.

I did add ice sometimes, it made it super delicious to me (that was before I knew it was a no no!). A couple of times when I made it for me and hubby, I added other things (apple and cucumber) to make it more palatable. It was super yummy we both couldn’t get enough of it–but I did notice that it didn’t feel quite as awesome as when I drank it plain.

How I felt:

benefits of celery juice

I felt very clear and light when I drank the juice in the am. It also made me crave healthier things throughout the day. During this time, I had some dental work done and my gums were sore. Unintentionally, I realized that the juice was totally soothing on my gums.

It really did “cleanse,” even with just 8oz- so starting slow was important. I did work my way up to the 16oz and didn’t notice a huge difference.

Overall, it just made me feel just, good. Its hard to explain, but it definitely felt like my system was very pleased to have the green boost!

 

Final thoughts

Ideally, I would have done it for a longer period and sequentially, but it just didn’t work out that way. I think I would have been able to see stronger results. Without a doubt, when I drank the juice as prescribed, I felt good. Very good. And that is never something to discount. I know now that it is a great thing to do when I just need to feel good in my body.

The question I kept asking myself was how to make this a tangible apart of my daily routine. And is it worth the time. It can be a bit of a pain making it fresh every morning. Just time consuming. I recommend washing and trimming ends in advance to save some time.

Also, as a generally healthy person, I question if I need to be drinking it every day. It is supposedly very healing, and great for breastfeeding, but I just can’t imagine a world I make this juice every day. I do know that if I was suffering from an illness, I would prioritize making it.

My net takeaway: it definitely doesn’t hurt. Especially if you feel like your body needs a serious pick me up. If you can find the time to add it into your routine, I would definitely recommend it.

Have you tried celery juice? I would love to hear your thoughts! Send me a DM on Instagram or Facebook to let me know what you think. Chin chin! - AHS

Wedded Wellness

wellness for the wedding wedded wellness thank you notes prenatal vitamins healthy habits for marriage

So you did it! You tied the knot! You’re back from the honeymoon. Now what? Time to settle into your “new” life as a wifey!  The wedding itself may be over (and it was absolutely the #bestdayever!) and it can be sad! You spent months (sometimes years!) planning your day. You had all of your favorite people in one place. You married the love of your life! It can feel sad that it’s over. But the good news is that you have so much to be excited about! You are entering the next phase of your life. And it’s going to be AHmazing. Beat the wedding blues by focusing on getting your new married life set up for success! I’ve compiled some of the best tips to help you get started!

Change things up

If you lived together before you were married- a good way to make it feel different (because it absolutely IS different) is to rearrange your furniture. If you can do this in your bedroom - fantastic! You want to start creating memories that feel different than before you were married. It helps signify that things are different now! It should feel awesome! 

If you didn’t live together before you were married- you are going to have so many new things in your life! Either a new home or a serious change up to your previous space. New routine. New set up. Not to mention all of the new tools in the kitchen! Things absolutely are going to feel different! Which leads to the next section…

Healthy habits start here

Try to get into a good ritual with your spouse. Try to eat dinner, phones away, no TV, etc. Go for a walk together after work. Make smoothies for two in the morning! Maybe you already do all of these things- but it’s important to get these habits ingrained quickly into your routine. It’s really easy to get into a takeout and Netflix routine. Try to connect every day and keep up your healthy habits from #sheddingforthewedding! 

Get your thank you notes finished ASAP

Thank you notes–they will hang over every moment of spare time until they are completed. Finish them. Quickly. No I’m serious, stop reading this article and go do them. JK, don’t. But really the sooner you get them done, the happier you will be. Related to this, do not send out a mass thank you note. They should all be personal. People don’t understand if you received the gift they sent if you don’t. Besides that- its just polite manners. 

Schedule you time

You may want to spend all of your time with your new hubz/wifey! Who can blame you?! But it’s really important to spend good quality time with yourself. Read a new book. Go for a run. Meditate. Alone time is super good for you. 

Be good to your friends

Now is the time to love up on your friends (away from your boo!)! Your #bridetribe just spent your entire engagement “season” loving up on you! Schedule some exclusive girl time to return the love and spend time knowing what is going on in their world. 

If babes are in the near future…

Start taking a prenatal vitamin! I’m not a huge fan of vitamins (most of the time you are just peeing them out!) - but taking a prenatal vitamin is super important! It can prevent preterm births. AND the CDC recommends anyone within child bearing years take a supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily - so if you are even vaguely thinking about adding a kiddo into your world- now is the time to start taking one. 

Schedule your date nights

Pull out that planner and actually schedule actual date nights out right now. It’s so easy to stay in and hibernate together (WINTER IS COMING) - but you are young, and fun, and doing new things together keeps things fresh! 


What was your fave idea? How do you plan on spending your time now that wedding planning isn’t taking all of your time? Let me know on Instagram or Facebook! -AHS

It's okay to not feel amazing when you get engaged

anxiety about wedding

I have something to talk about that is not often discussed in the wedding industry. In fact, it's very rare to read or hear about it at all. I'm bringing it up, because I think it is important for brides to be to hear and I want to be a voice to help you stay grounded during your engagement. You ready?

It's okay to not feel absolutely wonderful every day of your engagement. In fact, it's even okay to feel sad! 

I've talked to enough women to know that while we want our engagement periods to be one of sheer bliss - there are moments that are harder to deal with. And I'm not just talking about wedding planning stress, although that doesn't make it any easier!

I think there is this stigma about talking about other emotions when you are getting married. Like somehow if you are not swooning with affection for your fiancé/e every day, you love them less, or even worse, that you shouldn't be getting married.

I need to debunk this. There are so so so many reasons that you could be feeling anything but happy during your wedding "season". 

You could feel sad about not being your parents little girl any longer. You could feel weird because everyone says "you just know" and you didn't know. Or maybe your nervous because your parents were divorced and you know you don't want that fate for yourself. Or maybe you are overwhelmed because there are a lot of life changes happening at once. Maybe you're sad about the loss of your single life. Maybe you're sad about having to split holidays. Maybe you're sad that your life as you knew it is changing forever. Maybe it's that you have been dreaming of your wedding your whole life and you aren't ready for the dream to be over. Maybe it's every one of those things or none of them. 

It is possible to feel joy, love, and excitement–and also sadness, loss, and anxiety during your engagement.

Getting married is one of the biggest life events you will experience. Sometimes it's a huge adjustment, sometimes it's just a formality. What I want you to walk away with, is that it is okay to feel any of these emotions during this time. Make space for yourself to process your emotions. Feel how you feel, and don't be ashamed or scared about feeling more than just joy during this time in your life.


Have you felt like this at all during your engagement? If you feel this way it can be incredibly isolating. I know this is a sensitive topic, but I want you to know I am here for you if you need to talk about this with someone. If you want to talk about it, please, send me a message on social media or drop me an email in the form below and I will get back to you shortly. This is not an email sign up, just an opportunity to chat with an unbiased party. :)

If talking isn't up your alley. Be sure to check out some of the other posts to help keep you "Zen for the Wed." Xx - AHS

Should you switch to natural deodorant before your wedding? A breakdown of transitioning to natural deodorant

Natural deodorant has been around for years, but I've noticed a huge uptick recently in people ready to make the shift! It has been on my mind for a while, and for a while I mean about 13 years. My step-mom is a breast cancer survivor and since she went through the experience, natural deodorant has been on my to-do list (continue reading for the "why").  But when is the right time to make the switch? Would it be okay to do before your wedding? This post walks you through my experience switching to natural deodorant and my recommendation for when to make the switch.

Why to switch

I'm not a super smelly or sweaty person.... or so I thought. I had been using a regular solid antiperspirant stick for years. It worked very well, but, the main active ingredient was aluminum

Why do regular antiperspirants use aluminum? It blocks the sweat glands, preventing sweat from coming out. [Sweat itself doesn't smell, but when it interacts with bacteria on the body, it can create an odor. This is why depending on who you are- you may be more or less smelly. Different types of bacteria thrive on different skin types. This is also why good hygiene is key. Shower, people!] But what is the issue with aluminum? From Cancer.org: 

"Some research suggests that aluminum-containing underarm antiperspirants, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and have estrogen-like (hormonal) effects.
Because estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer. In addition, it has been suggested that aluminum may have direct activity in breast tissue." 

That being said, it is important to note that no studies have confirmed that aluminum could increase breast cancer risks. Another doozy that has been associated with aluminum products - Alzheimers! Again, there has been no scientific evidence proving there is any link. However, the way I see it is science is fickle, studies are often flawed (anyone who has ever paid attention to nutrition studies are super aware of this!), and there is always new data emerging. I would rather be safe than sorry! Thus the search for the perfect natural deodorant commenced. 


My experience 

First, let's talk about the fact that everyone is different, and my experience may be different than yours. But, switching to natural deodorant has been a bit of a struggle for me. 

So far I have tried 3 different varieties of natural deodorant. And the key operating word is deodorant - not to be confused with antiperspirant. As stated above, antiperspirants block the sweat from coming out, deodorant just masks the smell. And that is a big change to get used to.

Option 1: Life Stinks

life stinks natural deodorant what to expect when you transition to natural deodorant

The first has been in my beauty bag for years. It's called Life Stinks by the Duggan Sisters. They are a small, local (yay!), Chicago business. It comes in a powder that smells like lavender or cedar. You can also purchase a "Stink Stick" that you put on first if you are a heavy sweater. I tried it for awhile years ago, but couldn't make the commitment. Mostly, I felt like I sweat much more compared to my normal antiperspirant (which isn't a knock on them, just the nature of the beast). I gave it a shot again recently when I started testing out natural deodorants.  At the end of the day, I'm just not into the powder, but it is purely personal preference. I throw it in my gym bag and will put it on post sweat to help absorb the moisture, but not for daily use. I like the feeling of putting on a stick. It is closer to my original routine and is an easier transition. Ingredients: aluminum free sodium bicarbonate, tea tree oil and lavender or cedarwood oil

Option 2: Dear Me

Dear Me Organic Deodorant

The second try was Dear Me Natural Organic Deodorant. I found them on Instagram and I decided to give it a shot. As of right now they have one scent blend called, "Make My Day". It smells great. This was really my first hardcore attempt at switching. I started with it at the beginning of March. It worked beautifully for the first month. I wasn't particularly sweaty or smelly! Success! Then at the end of April I brought it with me on my trip to South Africa. Let's just say my body had not transitioned to a warmer climate and neither did the deodorant. I was stinky. And it was a challenge. I returned home from the trip to warmer weather in Chicago, and the problem persisted. I was showering twice a day just to keep the pits stink-free. That being said, it definitely could've been the "detox" time period I had read about- when your body is expelling toxins and smelliness is increased for a while. I did also get some mild irritation and redness when I first switched, too. It went away though. BUT–I used it the entire time I was in yoga teacher training–and I felt like it held its own! 

Another random consideration, the first ingredient in Dear Me is coconut oil, which means at warmer temperatures it will melt. You can store in the fridge and get a refreshing cool feeling when you apply in the morning, but don't leave it in your beach bag. I really did like this deodorant a lot and it lasted me for about 4 months. I would definitely consider bringing it back for the colder months. Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Beeswax, High Quality Baking Soda, Arrow Root Powder, Peppermint Essential Oil, Palmarosa Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil

Option 3: Native

native natural deodorant switching to natural deodorant
Native natural deodorant ingredients aluminum free paraben free

For the last month I have been using Native deodorant. It is another stick blend. There are actually quite a few scents available- I opted for the seasonal blend, Rosé (duh). I also purchased a little mini of their bestseller, coconut & vanilla. It's a bit harder (doesn't use as much every application) than Dear Me, so I think it will last awhile. So far I really have liked it.  There are quite a few more ingredients in it- but it really works very well. I still am a lil' stinkier at the end of the day, so I reapply (and really scent is truly gone- it doesn't feel like I'm covering it up with perfume or something) or I shower before bed. Honestly, this is the first time I feel like life is business as usual since I switched to natural deodorant this winter. What I found super interesting is that they have a probiotic in their ingredients - L. acidophilus! I'm curious to know if by adding that bacteria it changes the dynamic of the smell. If any of you know the answer, please share! <3 Bonus- if you decide to try Native and use this link we both get a free mini-deodorant. Yes, pls! Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Arrowroot Powder, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Shea Fruit Butter, Coconut Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyglycerol-3 Beeswax, Jojoba Esters, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), L. acidophilus, Dextrose, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Fragrance

The Outcome

My conclusion - there isn't a simple answer. The effectiveness appears to go up with the number of ingredients in the deodorant, but I would prefer a simpler blend. As of right now I am happy with Native, but I haven't ruled out trying the others again, or trying new blends. It's interesting because we all have different bacteria that thrives on our skin- so there is not one answer that works best for everyone! I would recommend trying out any of the options above to see how they work for you. I feel like I've finally become comfortable with using natural deodorant- my next mission is to get my husband to try it too! 


What to expect when you switch from a normal antiperspirant to a natural deodorant

Helpful tips for switching from Native!&nbsp;

Helpful tips for switching from Native! 

  1. It's not business as usual. Things will feel different under there. It takes time to get used to an increased level of perspiration. 
  2. You may be stinkier for a period of time while you detoxify- or not. Some recommend doing an armpit detox mask. I didn't try, but perhaps would help eliminate the toxin stink period. 
  3. Some natural deodorants may stain your clothes. I didn't notice this more so than my previous anti-perspirant, but it's good to be aware of. 
  4. Shave your pits the night before to prevent irritation. 
  5. Reapplying is your friend. 

 


The Verdict?

So when is the right time to switch to natural deodorant? I don't believe there ever really is going to be a good time, but I would wait until after your wedding! Maybe even wait until you get home from the honeymoon. If you are ready to take the plunge, I would start at least 6 months before wedding. I think there are too many X factors. Pit stains on a white dress? Worrying about lifting your arms when dancing on your big day? Detox stink kicking in on your honeymoon? I would stick to what has worked for you in the past. Don't change anything up unless its not working! After the wedding passes you have your whole life to test out what works for you and your bod!


Have you tried natural deodorant? Did you make the switch before the wedding? Any brand recommendations to try? I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a note here or on Insta/FB. - AHS

Wellness Hack: Frozen Foods

Wellness hack benefits of frozen food

Today I decided I needed to share with you my biggest wellness secret...FROZEN FOOD. Yeah, I said it. Frozen. Food. I'm not talking about old school TV dinners, I'm talking about REAL food, just frozen. 

How is this a hack, you say? Because it seriously keeps me on my game. It's an excellent tool to keep in the Shedding toolkit. Here's why: 

1. It helps you SAVE money!

If you are buying plain frozen veggies, many times they are less expensive than buying fresh! I know, it's crazy! Most of the frozen vegetables I buy are not more expensive than if I bought them fresh. Don't get me wrong, fresh is great, but not necessary for every meal! 

Also, when you have food that is at it's peak ripeness, and you know you won't have a chance to use it before it goes bad? Throw it in the freezer! Say no to food waste! 

2. You don't miss out on any nutrients

How? Doesn't freezing destroy the nutrient value? Actually, in most cases it preserves the nutrients! Most frozen foods are flash frozen at the peak of ripeness when the nutrients are prime for the eating! A lot of time food travels thousands of miles to get to its destination. During this time, many fresh fruits and veggies lose some of their prime nutrients. This is also why shopping local is best! :) Who knew frozen could even be better for you than fresh?!

3. You are always prepared! 

So if you are like me, and are never home OR if you are planning a big trip- frozen food will save you when you come home. Let's say you get back late and have to get right back into a crazy work week upon arrival? No time for the grocery store? No problem! You have all the fixins for a stir-fry or a burger in your freezer!

4. You save time! 

No chopping, washing, trimming or peeling for you! If it's frozen, it's ready to go! This turns an hour long meal prep into 30 minutes. And who doesn't love that?

 

Here are some of my favorite frozen foods and foods to freeze! 

  • 3 minute microwavable packages of brown rice. These are my absolute favorites. I mostly use them in buddha bowls or stir-frys. Also great for soups too! 
  • When I'm going on a trip I buy enough meat for 2-3 weeks and storing anything I won't use that week in the freezer. Chicken and ground turkey are my go-tos, but even bacon works! Meats defrost beautifully if they aren't in there too long! 
  • Frozen shrimp- I buy cooked and uncooked. When I'm really tired it's great to have cooked shrimp ready to go for a pasta dish. 
  • 2 ingredient frozen turkey burgers. So easy, so healthy. What's not to love! 
  • Trader Joe's has an Organic Quinoa, Kale, Sweet potato, Carrot bowl thing that is an easy meal when you are not in the mood to cook. 
  • Frozen riced cauliflower- I use this instead of brown rice to lighten the carb load when I need a lighter meal! 
  • Broccoli florets- I pretty much could use these in any dish. 
  • Bell peppers- Same as above. 
  • Frozen berries for dessert- I love to eat these whole in the Winter. It's almost like eating ice cream. My favorites are cherries and blueberries. 
  • I love throwing overripe fruit in the freezer for smoothies. You could also throw them in with cottage cheese or use them in chia puddings! 
  • Spiralized veggie noodles - easy peasy ready to go! 
  • Frozen shelled edamame - another #shedapproved snack

 

What do you guys think? Into frozen food or not about it? I'm also curious to know what else do you freeze? I am all about expanding my frozen food repertoire – I would love to hear any of your tips for me! 

 

 

Matcha Collagen Fat Balls

shed for the wed matcha fat ball
alexandra hayden shea matcha fat balls

As a special request, I attempted Lee from America's Coconut Fat Balls. I altered the recipe slightly to fit my needs, one of which was MATCHA. Cuz matcha is always a need right?

matcha collagen fat balls food processor

I added Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen, to boot. Why? Matcha contains 137 times the amount of free radical-fighting antioxidants as other green teas and you now can eat them! AND as you know from my collagen post there are so many benefits to adding collagen into your routine. Hello healthy hair, skin, nails, bones and joints! The works. This was a fun way to try out a new way to get my collagen into the routine!

If you follow Lee, you may know she is obsessed Coconut Butter. I have yet to try the magical substance, and it is not available everywhere. That's where my good friend ghee comes in. I substituted ghee for coco butter, and it worked really well. It probably gave the balls a slightly different texture. I think it's the reason my "balls" really look more like cookies. 

Ghee is a form of clarified butter and it's kinda amazing. It's great for people who are sensitive to dairy and it has a higher smoke point than plain butter. Confused about what it is? Clarified butter starts as unsalted butter that is heated on low heat, which causes the milk solids to separate from the rest of the liquid. The milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan after the butter melts. Any foam sitting on the surface is removed. Ghee takes it one step further- after the milk solids separate the butter is simmered until all of the moisture evaporates and the milk solids brown slightly in the pan. This gives ghee a richer, nuttier flavor. 

I tried at first to fit them on a cookie sheet- my freezer was not big enough for that. So I switched to the plate.&nbsp;

I tried at first to fit them on a cookie sheet- my freezer was not big enough for that. So I switched to the plate. 

Yep, that's Stolichnaya in my fridge. All about balance right? Fat balls and Stoli, what a combo.&nbsp;

Yep, that's Stolichnaya in my fridge. All about balance right? Fat balls and Stoli, what a combo. 

Ghee also has a lot of awesome health benefits - one of which is being anti-inflammatory which is one of my bigger qualms with dairy in general. It also helps to improve digestion, build strong bones, and even can act as a detoxifier!  To learn more about ghee's benefits, read this article.

Back to the fat balls... got a little distracted by glorious ghee there for a moment! I also thought I had dates in the fridge- and I only had one! So to make up for it I added a smidge of honey. I thought it would make them super sticky, but it didn't in the end! The original recipe called for 3 dates – if you would prefer that to honey! Also, apologies to any of you with nut or coconut allergies- just reading the recipe may cause you to break out into hives. 

What I loved about the balls is that they are a perfect snack. If I do a smoothie for lunch and I get hungry- it's the perfect balance and it really feels like a treat! I sometimes forget they are in the freezer - and it's so awesome to find them when I am really wanting a treat and can't find anything! Also side note: I do not advise eating these as an after dinner dessert. They are obviously full of fat, and your body will not have a good amount of time to digest them before bed! Better as an afternoon treat. :)

Oh, one more thing! If you want to make these matcha collagen style like I did, Vital Proteins is having a promo this week: buy one get one 20% off. It's going on through 5/28. So take advantage if you can! You can buy here.

Code: SUMMERKICKOFF

So without further ado the recipe is below! 


Vital Proteins did not pay me to write this post. But they did provide the matcha! If you buy through any of the links I provide, I will get a small commission at no added cost to you. :) And just in case you weren't sure, my opinions all my own. 


Matcha Collagen Fat Balls

(adapted from Lee from America's Coconut Fat Balls) 

matcha fat balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut shreds
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup ghee, melted
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cup cashews (I used roasted unsalted)
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 scoop Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 medjool date (pitted)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 c. almond milk

Equipment

  • Food Processor
  • (Some say a blender can be used instead, but I haven't tested it.)

Instructions

  1. Blend everything in a food processor until dough is achieved. Dough will be wet, that’s good!
  2. Roll into bite sized balls then lay flat and freeze. Once frozen, place in an airtight container and put back in the freezer for storing. They can last for a while in there! 
  3. Remove from freezer and let thaw 6 minutes before eating for optimal deliciousness!

5 Things I Wish I Had Done To Stay Healthy While Traveling Abroad

birds of paradise durban south africa

While London was a case study in what to do right, South Africa was a study in my failings. Learn from my mistakes. Study up if you have a honeymoon in your near future! 

 

1. Put vanity aside, and get yourself a face mask.

Yes, I'm talking about those SARS masks. Really, the first tip is don't be too embarrassed to wear a face mask to protect you from other people's germs when you have a lot of travel ahead of you. I wish I had brought one, the man next to me on the plane was clearly very sick, and I know I caught a flu/cold from him. I don't think any of you will actually do it- but seriously, it's worth the embarrassment. If nothing more just have one on hand, just in case you need saving from Mr. Sniffles in the middle seat.

 

2. Skip the booze on the plane.

Night one. We got down on some wine.&nbsp;

Night one. We got down on some wine. 

While I don’t normally drink on flights- this was a lot of travel. 2 full days of it (the trip doesn't normally take this long, but longer than usual layovers plus delays made it so). I don't take sleeping pills or melatonin (doesn't help me) on planes, and a bit of wine can help knock me out. While that may be okay in a normal vacation scenario -  I went straight into wedding "party mode" when I arrived: a bachelorette party, a welcome party, a traditional wedding, and a Zulu wedding all consecutive days. If I had skipped booze on the plane,  I would have been in better shape for all the parties ahead. Instead, I was dehydrated, and it left my immune system a lil bit weaker than usual (which as you learned earlier, was not the best). 

 

Glass half full &lt;3

Glass half full <3

3. Make hydration a priority  

I repeatedly struggled to drink enough water, especially throughout wedding festivities (and I probably needed it the most then!). I had debated on bringing a big ole water bottle with me, but decided against it because my carry on was already approaching 30 lbs. In retrospect, I would've brought the bottle and left some books at home! 

 

4. Make time to meditate

As mentioned before, when I landed I went straight into wedding chaos. My first morning I had a bit of time, but instead of waking and doing my morning meditation, I let curiosity and excitement get the better of me and I went to go explore. Regrets, friends, regrets. That was the last opportunity I had for meditation for the next 3 days. Late nights, early mornings, and lots of parties prevented me from keeping up with my routine. While skipping these things are okay while on vacation- I missed out on good self care that would've served me well! I didn't let the habit lapse the whole trip though – after the wedding events ended I got back into my routine! :) 

At the top of Lion's Head Mountain in Cape Town... perhaps not the safest meditation spot.&nbsp;

At the top of Lion's Head Mountain in Cape Town... perhaps not the safest meditation spot. 

5. Bring a pharmacy

I'm an experienced traveler, and I thought I was prepared, but I really was not. I had all my supplements with me, but no medicine. While I took special probiotics to prevent traveler's diarrhea, they didn't really work. I'm not exactly sure why, but regardless, I wish I had brought some Imodium in my kit. I also had menstrual cramps- Aleve, please. I had a fever (yes, I couldn't catch a break) - Ibuprofen was necessary. My sickness evolved into a cold/cough from h*ll - so I definitely needed some cold meds and throat lozenges. 

A lot of these goods were available at the local chemist, but I was not staying close to town for the first part of the trip. However, I was saved because I had friends who, unlike me, brought pharmacies with them. So moral of the story is to plan for the worst case scenario. The only thing worse than getting sick on vacation is not having meds to make you feel better. 

Side note: I'm a bit hippy dippy and when I'm at home. I try to not take medicine unless I really need it. I like to hydrate, rest, and let nature take it's course. However, in the case of vacation in far away places, this is the time to hop right off that high horse and take some meds. Your time away is short, and you want to savor these memories, not recalling how terrible you felt!


I hope these tips were helpful and you learned from my mistakes! What's the biggest travel fail you've ever experienced? Leave me a note in the comments below or on Insta! - AHS

 

Looking for more travel tips? Check out the posts below! 

 

 

 

5 tips to keep up your healthy lifestyle while traveling abroad

Poached eggs spinach parm Blixen London

If you don't know me personally, you may not know that travel is my favorite hobby. I have been to 30 countries in my 30 years* of life, and I intend to keep that ratio going. I however, have not always been the perfect example of health whilst on the road. As my life has become increasingly focused on health, I have had to adapt my indulgent ways to create balance in my life. Inspired by my trip to London last week, I have assembled some tips to help you while you travel internationally (and domestic as well for many!). Remember it is all about Soulful Healthy (Eating) Decisions, every day. 

Tip #1: Eat Clean before you go

My first tip actually starts before you even set foot in the airport. If you know you will be traveling, try to cook at home as much as you can the week before you leave, and obviously, keep it clean. This will help set you up for success and not feel overly indulgent once you arrive in your destination. Basically, you are prepping your body to splurge a bit. Bonus points if you are going on a beach vacay, you will feel great in that bathing suit! 

Also, prepare for the flight and immediate arrival by bringing your own healthy fare. For the plane I brought almonds and dried fruit. I also had a couple RX bars on hand for mini meals upon arrival. Kick your trip off on a good note!

banana oatmeal healthy tips while traveling

Tip #2: Make a trip to the local grocery

If you are staying at an AirBNB you most likely had this as a part of your plan, but for the rest of the hotel dwellers, you may think twice about this step. Going to the grocery store at your destination can be an awesome asset. If you have a fridge in your room you can pack up with all of your go-tos. You could get yogurt, almond milk, fresh fruit that needs refrigeration, etc. It really opens up a whole realm of possibilities. If a fridge is not in the cards, there are lots of shelf stable foods that can help you stay on track. On my trip last week, the minibar fridge was full so I didn't have the option. I bought GF oatmeal, bananas, and some popcorn for snacking. We had a kettle in the room, so that was all we needed for a quick and easy brekky. Starting your day with a healthy, balanced breakfast (I sound like a commercial from the 90s) allows for wiggle room later! This will also help you save some $$!

Tip #3: lean into what the locals eat

Just because you are starting the day right doesn't mean you should be eating all of your meals in your room. The fact is, you are in a new place, you should enjoy it! Try street fare, go to all the best restaurants and eat what sounds good to you. When you are experiencing a new culture, you shouldn't stress about eating too many carbs or having dessert. This is why tips 1 and 2 are so important. By starting off on the right foot, you can be more indulgent in other areas. 

 

 

 

Tip #4: Pick your spots to indulge

Shameless (truly) eating of the most delicious NOT gf buttery scones in all the land. At Hoi Polloi in Shoreditch, London.

Shameless (truly) eating of the most delicious NOT gf buttery scones in all the land. At Hoi Polloi in Shoreditch, London.

Chia pod and chai almond milk latte - still starting the day clean!

Chia pod and chai almond milk latte - still starting the day clean!

So, please, you absolutely should indulge during your trip. BUT – you do not need to indulge at every meal. If you think that you will be eating an extravagant dinner, try to not have an indulgent lunch. This move should also be apart of your healthy living routine in life, so don't throw it to the wayside just cuz you're not in your every day reality! 

Also, you can still make healthy decisions whilst eating out. As always, keep an eye out for lots of veggies and lean protein. Choose some meals to not have white carbs (potatoes, pasta, bread, etc). 

 

Tip #5: Move

This may be an obvious one, but try to move your body while you are traveling. Post long plane ride you are going to want to stretch it out. Try to reconnect with nature upon arrival. Walk around and let the earth know where you've landed (yeah my woo-woo side is showing). On some vacations, activity is just built right in! Go hiking on Machu Picchu! Go swim in the ocean with some dolphins! Bike through tulip fields in Holland! Even playing golf counts (just don't use a cart ;)).  But if you're traveling for work you may not have those lovely options. Here is a list of possible ways to move if you are not so lucky:

  • walk everywhere
  • use the hotel fitness center
  • do a yoga flow in your room (or in nature if possible!)
  • go to a local fitness studio
  • use a fitness app on your phone
  • go for a run (if the neighborhood is safe and is culturally appropriate)

Moving your body daily will make you feel good and help you stay in balance. Try to keep it up for the duration of your trip, but listen to your body. If you're tired, rest! :) 

Bonus Tip #6: don't expect to be perfect

It's all about the ebbs and flows of life. You are on a trip: whether it be business or vacation, you are experiencing a part of the world you don't get to be in all of the time. Soak up every second. Be present. Enjoy yourself and don't obsess! When you get home, you can get back to your healthy routine as usual. Life is good. 


Where are you off to next?  Would love to hear about your next big trip and your biggest challenges when traveling! Leave me a note below or a comment on the gram. Cheers friends! Xx - AHS

*I wrote this when I was still 30. I turned 31 this week. Ratio to be updated hopefully soon!