The universe of DIY

So I’ve been into body care DIYs lately. Soap, face wash, bubble baths and the like. The other day my husband came out of the bathroom with the handsoap in hand and demanded, “What’s this?”

“It’s soap. It works. Use it.”

“Did you make it?” he asked suspiciously.

“Yes. It works. Use it.”

He reluctantly used it and I heard some complaints later about weird soap. “Why can’t you just buy stuff like a normal person?” he wanted to know.

This is a good question.

Cosmetics and our health

I’ve had various health issues most of my life, starting when I was a teenager. Since discovering some of the causes a few years ago, it has made me a lot more aware of what I put into my body. Learning the impacts of too many antibiotics and other medications on my body has made me realize how complex an ecosystem our body is. It’s also an amazing thing that can heal itself if given the right environment. Reducing stress in our lives can bring tremendous change, eating better can bring so much more energy, but also removing certain chemical stressors that we don’t know are or could be impacting our health is something I’m interested more in.

Canadians are fairly lucky in that our government does a pretty good job at monitoring what is helpful and harmful for its citizens. However, we don’t always know everything there is to know about every substance we interact with. I remember growing up watching commercials that advertised laundry detergent without phosphates, because they had recently been banned due to the realization it was harming the environment. From what I can see, Canada sits between the US and the EU when it comes to food and drug regulations. The US is much more lax on these things, and the EU far more strict.

When it comes to cosmetics, the EU has 1,400 substances banned, Canada has about 500 banned, while the US has only 11 banned. My husband pointed out that the EU is complicated in that sometimes it bans things for trade purposes, so that they are more economically self-sustainable. So maybe these numbers are a bit skewed. According to David Suzuki and a few other concerned parties, there are at least 12 substances that we should be more aware of that we are putting in and on our bodies because they are suspected to disrupt hormones and/or interfere with reproduction and/or lead to cancer.

Everything Causes Cancer

For awhile I had the attitude that we’re all going to die of cancer so why don’t we just live our lives. While that may be fine for me to decide for my self, if there are simple ways to reduce the negative impact on the lives of my family and children, then I’m going to do what I can.

Replacing my soaps, shampoos, and the makeup I wear each day is pretty simple. In most cases it’s really simple and cheap as well (makeup is less cheap, but I’m finding cheaper alternatives). It’s much simpler than doing a diet overhaul. I’m certainly making my choices. I do eat at McDonald’s. I’m by no means a total granola mom who doesn’t feed her kids sugar, and snacks on only veggies.

Want to give some DIYs a try?

diyHere are a few of the simplest cosmetic DIYs to try if you want. Finding the containers is the trickiest part. You can reuse other soap containers or you can buy them at well.ca.

Note: when it comes to essential oils, please make wise choices. Many are not safe for children under 2 or while pregnant or breastfeeding or can interact with various medications including SSRIs and blood thinners. To learn more check out Using EOs Safely.

Just want to buy safebuyiyr alternatives?

I started by splurging on BeautyCounter, because I was relieved I found a legit brand that I didn’t need to research. But the cost felt too high for me to really invest. If you can afford it, BeautyCounter is a great option (this links to my friend Emily‘s store). After enjoying the products (because they’re great), I was motivated to find less expensive alternatives. It turns out there are some really great ones! Some end up being cheaper than making yourself once you buy all of the containers etc, or they’re comparable in price.

  • Andalou Naturals body care. You can buy this at Loblaws/Provigo in the organic/health food section or well.ca where it’s currently linked to. It’s also at my local health food store. They’re FANTASTIC face washes and creams.
  • Physicians Formula makeup. You can also buy this at Loblaws/Provigo in the organic section or on well.ca.

There really are a lot of options once you start looking into it. More importantly, looking into it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. I looked to see what was at the health section at Provigo, then checked my local health store, and looked at well.ca. Then I compared them to the Environmental Working Group’s “Skindeep” database that rates the cosmetic. An easier option is to browse what you want on the “Green” section of well.ca, then check a product’s rating on the EWG database.

Have a recipe to share? A product you love? A fear you have? Want to share more information? Comment away!

Happy New Year

veggies

A few days ago my mother in law asked us all at the dinner table if we had any New Years Resolutions. I hadn’t really thought about it until then except that I was toying with the idea of letting this year be a “no resolution” year largely due to my (exceptionally cute) two-month-old. At this point, I have yet to figure out how to do groceries in a way that doesn’t involve ordering them online and having them delivered (FOR A DOLLAR!!).

But one thing remains a problem that, unless fixed, will surely lead to bad health and general discomfort: I don’t eat my vegetables and fruits.

I just can’t be bothered. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I don’t like them more than meat and potatoes. I don’t like them enough to have them be more than an afterthought at best. If I have the option of a salad bar, I will always get a salad, but with the option of a salad or fries it will almost always be fries.

On top of that, my high blood pressure is now on the radar. My OBGYN induced my labour due to high blood pressure (but not pre-eclampsia) and I had to stay longer in the hospital for the same reason. I’m not even 30 and I feel tightness in my chest frequently these days because of it. It seems all that McDonald’s is finally catching up with me.

So as I thought about what needed to change in my life it was pretty simple: I need to learn how to love vegetables and stop eating poorly. I thought being pregnant and breastfeeding would encourage me to eat well, but so far that hasn’t happened and I managed to bake a healthy, strong baby eating mostly potato chips.

There are a few other things related to health that I want to incorporate into my New Years resolution but I haven’t nailed all the details down yet. I think my goals will be in phases where by March (for example) I want to have x habit and by June y habit.

Maybe by the time Jack is eating real food I will be too!

The End of the Smoothie Challenge

20-smoothies

The Smoothie Challenge is over. I can’t believe I got as far as I did! Did I manage to get through the full month? For those of you following on Instagram, you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting smoothies lately. Tuesday of last week we rolled into the in-laws’ place and I just found it a lot harder to put together a smoothie there. I technically ‘won’ if you count a week’s worth of Bolthouse Farms Smoothies, but I’m pretty sure that’s missing the point a bit.

How did it go?

It went like a lot of 30 day challenges do: fun at first, and then around day 10-15 it got hard. Some days I was doing them at 9:30PM just to say I did it for that day. But hey! I managed to get pretty far that way. In the end, I did 22 out of 31 days. Not too bad!

Some days the smoothies were super good. Other days, my concoctions were revolting. I learned I should never put apple or cucumber in my smoothie. It makes it thick and chunky. All in all, I think I had more good smoothies than bad smoothies and I learned some good things about hiding greens in a drink.

What did I learn?

veggies

1. I think I actually felt better when I was having the daily smoothies. This last week my gut has been less happy and a bit stiff. Like I’ve said before, I wouldn’t win the Olympic medal for vegetable consumption. As you can see from my Lift progress, I don’t even eat them every day! So basically I should keep doing smoothies because they’re a good way for me to get fruits and veggies.

2. They’re pretty easy to put together. Spending 5-7 minutes on a smoothie is pretty reasonable when I consider that it’s a pretty easy way to get a range of fruits/veg into my body.

3. It doesn’t take that much planning. Once it becomes normal, you can get it done pretty quickly, especially with an immersion blender which is what I used every day. It makes it easy for clean up. I mostly used spinach, beet greens and kale for my greens and a mixture of fresh oranges and various frozen fruits.

Got recipes?

I managed to save my recipes and pictures as I went on Evernote and early on people started requesting recipes. If I remember correctly, most of them I randomly put together (except for the Sun Kissed Smoothie, which was probably THE BEST. There’s a link in the note) although some of those recipes are so easy to put together there’s no way I can really claim intellectual property on them.

You can get the recipes here. Some of those recipes are not that great. Just a warning.

Recent Reads May 06-11

MustReadMay6

How to Consistently Write 1000 Words a Day
The Relationship of Reading and Writing
Famous Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers
The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate our Brains

Health

A System for Getting to Sleep Earlier
The Scientific 7-minute Workout
Living Simply Manifesto:  72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life

Other

The Tyranny of Choice: You Choose on The Economist
11 Ways to be Unremarkably Average
I’m Still Here: Back Online A Year After Leaving The Internet

The Energy Project

energy-audit

I found this quiz on the weekend that I wanted to share with you. It’s called the Energy Audit. It asks a series of questions about your performance at work, how you feel at work, whether you are doing the things you want to do etc and then ranks you out of 100% on being physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally energized. I scored 40%, lowest on the mental energy score which I would tend to agree with. I received an email in my inbox highlighting the problematic statements I affirmed, which helps me to hone in on what to improve. None of them surprise me, I knew they were bad as soon as I clicked them:

  • I often eat lunch at my desk, if I eat lunch at all.
  • I frequently find myself feeling irritable, impatient or anxious at work, especially when demand is high.
  • I have difficulty focusing on one thing at a time and I am easily distracted during the day, especially by email.
  • I spend much of my time reacting to immediate demands rather than focusing on activities with longer-term value and leverage.
  • I rarely have any time when my mind is quiet and free of thoughts.
  • My decisions at work are often more influenced by external demands than by a strong, clear sense of my own purpose.

I have to admit, if I had done this test this time last year, the scores would have been a whole lot different. Since then, and since the inception of this blog, I have made a lot more positive changes.

To take the Energy Audit yourself by clicking here. Don’t forget to come back and share in the comments your score with some ideas on how you can improve!

“Exceeds Fair Trade Standards.”

This week I’m running a giveaway which you can read more about here or go straight to the bottom of the page to add your ballots. You can get another entry every day for tweeting or sharing on Facebook

fair for lifeYou wont find the ‘traditional’ FairTrade logo on this chocolate. Giddy YoYo is certified through Fair For Life, a different certification system that claims to go above and beyond typical FairTrade standards. This is a summary of what Fair For Life is about (found here by clicking on the Fair For Life image):

“Unlike traditional Fair Trade programs that merely certify products, the Fair For Life program is much more thorough in that it reviews our suppliers products from the top to the bottom; and it evaluates and audits all their working conditions, labour practices, environmental programs, social benefits, and their company’s transparency. The Fair For Life program also reviews and monitors the origins of these products to ensure complete compliance with the program.

“Good Trade Guidelines Include:

  • Fair price – Democratically organized farmer groups receive a guaranteed minimum floor price and an additional premium for certified organic products. Farmer organizations are also eligible for pre-harvested credit.
  • Fair labour conditions – Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labour is strictly prohibited.
  • Direct trade – With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
  • Democratic and transparent organizations – Fair Trade farmers and farm workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade revenues.
  • Community development – Fair Trade and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, quality improvement training, and organic certification.
  • Environmental sustainability – Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favour of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers’ health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.”

If you want more information, go check out the Fair For Life website and then get in on the giveaway.

giddy-yoyo-md

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