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Archive for June 27, 2014

Last few hours to use the Whole Foods Coupon!


This coupon is good until closing time TODAY. Only at San Diego locations.  I apologize to my out-of-town readers.

Friday Fitness: Hit restart again


It’s been a sobering week for health and fitness.  I saw my regular physician last Friday with a list of concerns… and other than finding out that I don’t need a Pap smear for another 3 years due to revised guidelines, the news was not pretty.

I have a heel spur and plantar’s fascititis in my left foot (I had PF in my right foot last year).  The prescription: wear orthotics (already do), rigid night splint and gel heel cups.  Long term solution: lose at least 20lbs to reduce the stress on my feet and joints. If that doesn’t work, see a podiatrist for custom orthotics…

The spots on my face that I thought were just recurring hormonal breakouts on my chin are actually pre-cancerous spots of interest: pre-actinic keratosis.  The prescription: keep an eye on them; increase sun protection.


The heel spur is pretty easy to deal with — although I am not happy about the prospect of pain lasting for several months.

I knew I was 20 lbs overweight, but now I have more incentive to lose that extra baggage.

The spots of interest have got me worried. I am a diligent sunscreen user.  I wear hats and scarves and uv sleeves when I walk… and I wear spf 50 on all exposed skin as a matter of course — even when I don’t think I’m going outside. That has probably prevented a lot of spots of interest… but I can only speculate about why I have two on my chin…


My usual walking gear — SPF 50 hat with back veil from Columbia Sport (it’s vented for heat management), an SPF 50 scarf from Coolibar, SPF 50 Hi-Tec UV sleeves, and Banana Boat Baby Tear-Free Sting-Free SPF 50 Lotion (it’s got zinc and Titanium Dioxide and is really cheap at Walmart)

Skin cancer runs in my family — which is no surprise since I come from pale Irish stock.  I know it’s very treatable, if caught early.  My sister-in-law went through treatment last year; it wasn’t pleasant.  An uncle declined treatment… and ultimately died from complications… this is serious and scary stuff.

My doctor is a young thing who probably just graduated last year and has been trained to speak in “plain English”… which is probably why after I left the office, I was confused by a lack of specific terminology.  I sent a message asking for clarification, but have yet to receive a reply.

So in the meantime, I am wearing gel heel cups in all my shoes.  They really help with the pain, although not being able to wear sandals in the summer is a sad thing.  I ordered a heel-gel sock thing from Amazon which, if it works, would let me wear sandals again… hope it arrives soon… and hope it works as the product description claims.

AND, I have added stick sunscreen to my regimen; it’s waxy and hopefully more sweatproof than the sport sunscreen I have been using.  I layer the stick (right now I am liking Badger unscented Face Stick in SPF 35) on top of my regular facial sunscreen (CeraVe SPF 50 Sunscreen for face) and after applying a thin layer of tinted BB cream (SPF 20-30, depending on the brand), I dust everything with Mineral Fusion SPF 30 Brush-On Sun Defense. I am wearing a hat more often, even when I’m not working or walking.

And I am trying to stay calm as I wait for more information. My brother-in-law, the doctor, suggested vit D supplements for both the heel spur and the skin condition.  He feels we are chronically deficient in vit D which leads to poor metabolism of calcium (creating “bone” spurs) and also makes us more vulnerable to certain kinds of cancers.  He prefers supplements over an hour of sun exposure per day during 10am and 2pm…. so I have added 1000 IU to my vitamin pile.

And we shall see.

Beauty Bonanza at Whole Foods

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post at the invitation of Whole Foods and their Summer Fun promotion. All views and opinions, however, are my own.

Last week, Whole Foods in La Jolla, CA held a beauty blogger’s dream event — an open house that showcased product lines carried in their stores — and also a goodie bag of delights!  The sparkling sodas and salad mixer with other bloggers was an added bonus!

There were four product line stations.  I started at Evan Healy‘s station.

Evan Healy discusses her philosophy of skincare.

Evan Healy discusses her philosophy of skincare.

Evan Healy, the founder of her eponyous skincare line was actually right there to explain her products, how to use them, why they work, and her philosophy of treating the skin and body gently to encourage balance. All of her products use the highest quality plant and mineral materials, many of them organic.

Each blogger got a quick assessment of primary skin issues and was given a skincare kit with 2 weeks worth of products. As a mature person dealing with hormonal breakouts (two of which I have since learned are actually pre-cancerous objects of interest and NOT breakouts — more on that in another post…), I was given the Rose Treatment Kit since its key ingredient, Rose Geranium essential oil encourages hormonal balance and is also good for aging skin.

The Rose Treatment Kit contents: Cleansing Milk, Rose Hydrosol,

The Rose Treatment Kit contents: Cleansing Milk, Rose Geranium Facial Tonic Hydrosol, Roship Treatment Facial Serum, Rose Vetiver Day Moisturizer, French Rose Clay for weekly treatment masks.

All of the kits feature a treatment serum which consists of a special blend of oils and essential oils.  The key is to put a few drops of the serum oil into your palm, then spritz a few sprays of the hydrosol on top, mix quickly and massage onto your cleansed face.  The combination absorbs almost instantly, leaving the skin super-refreshed.

I am currently testing this group of products and so far I love it!  My breakouts have calmed down significantly and I no longer get dry patches by the end of the day.

The next station featured Aura Cacia Products.  I was already familiar with this line since I use their lavender and eucalyptus essential oils in my henna paste.  They have a high standard of quality at very affordable prices. Their environmentally friendly farming and packaging policies are also a plus.

Aura Cacia Bath Salts

Aura Cacia Bath Salts

The Aura Cacia representative gave out full-sized sample packets of aromatherapy Mineral Bath salts.  He also demonstrated that you can make your own therapeutic bath salt mix by adding several drops of essential oils to either Kosher Salt (shown in the tin above) or epsom salts.  He also recommended massaging a drop or two of peppermint oil on the soles of your feet before going for a run to increase circulation.  And a drop of peppermint oil rubbed in the palm and then inhaled gives a quick caffeine-free boost.

Next up, Dr. Bronner’s station.

One of the Bronner clan discusses the many benefits of the classic liquid soap.

One of the Bronner clan discusses the many benefits of the classic liquid soap.

Dr. Bronner’s All-One Magic Soap is practically a hippie institution.  I remember buying the classic peppermint soap at our local health foods store in Nashville (run by the good hippies from The Farm, a utopian community). The scent was a blast of peppermint and it made everything tingle when I used it in the shower.  But it wasn’t just for showers… it was (and still is) the jack-of-all-soaps — dish soap, floor wash, window wash, hand-wash soap, shampoo (albeit a bit harsh), flea-repellent dog wash, eco-friendly bug spray for garden plants… the list goes on and on.

Now the company makes much more than just liquid castille soaps — there are lotions, hard soaps, baby products, hand sanitizers (made from natural coconut alcohol), lip products, and natural cooking oils.

The 4th and 5th generation descendents of the original German soapmaker immigrants have taken the All-One transcendental philosophy and applied it in their practices of partnering with Fair Trade farmers and promoting organic integrity, the reintroduction of industrial hemp production in the U.S. and fair trade practices.

I still love the liquid jack-of-all-soaps — and make sure I have a bottle on hand both at home and when we go camping.

The final station was the Mineral Fusion Booth.

I am already a big fan of Mineral Fusion — but had not tried their nail colors. They are Formaldehyde, toulene, camphor and dibutyl pthalate free — and come in 61 gorgeous colors!  Whole Foods in La Jolla had the full range of nail products as well as their acetone-free nail polish remover and treatment products.

a small selection of Mineral Fusion Nail Products

a small selection of Mineral Fusion Nail Products

The representative had 2 gifts for us:

Mineral Fusion Mini Polish Trio

Mineral Fusion Mini Polish Trio


Mineral Fusion Lip Sheer Pencil

Mineral Fusion Lip Sheer Pencil

The nail polish colors are perfectly yummy — the sea green is now my favorite summer shade…. and the Sheer Moisture Lip Tint is exactly what it says it is: a sheer wash of super-moisturizing color.  It is totally goof-proof and not only makes your lips feel amazing, it smells good, too.

If that weren’t enough fun for one evening, Whole Foods gave each of us bloggers a reusable shopping bag filled with full-sized body care items for us to try.

The goodie bag...

The goodie bag…

My husband immediately took the Desert Essence Coconut body lotion… reminds him of Hawaii… and it takes care of the chapping he gets from working in the garden.

Some of the items in the gift bag.

Some of the items in the gift bag. Reviews are in the works.

Squee!!! I suppose not many people get a thrill out of cotton balls… but as someone who uses them all day long to prepare skin for henna, I truly appreciate a quality cotton ball… these are made from organic cotton — so you know there’s no nasty pesticides used in growing the cotton (better for the planet, and the birds, bees and other beneficial insects).

Organic cotton balls are just a small item that shows the company’s commitment to lessening harmful environmental impacts from unnecessary (and toxic) chemicals — and its investment in the future of the planet.

Another way Whole Foods shows its commitment to a healthier planet is its stance on not allowing microbeads in any of the products they sell.  Microbeads are very small plastic beads used as exfoliants in soaps, body washes, body scrubs, facial scrubs, and some toothpastes.  These beads are plastic which means they never biodegrade, but just accumulate in our fresh and saltwater environments. Illinois has already banned products with microbeads; Hawaii and  New York are currently debating the issue. Microbeads are a serious problem in the Great Lakes, causing malnutrition in fish who see them as food and cannot digest or get rid of them. In addition, the beads absorb toxic chemicals and are a haven for bacterial blooms. According to NPR, “Lake Ontario’s levels are highest, with counts of up to 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer.” Pretty scary stuff.

In addition to being committed to caring for the planet on a large scale, Whole Foods also has stringent quality standards for its beauty and body care products.

  • They only sell personal care products that have not been tested on animals
  • They are committed to high-quality products with a proven track record.
  • They promote products with naturally-derived and plant-based ingredients, pure essential oil fragrances, gentle preservatives and non-petroleum ingredients.
  • They carefully evaluate each product they sell.
  • They aim for products with minimal environmental impact in both manufacturing and packaging.
  • They make sure their personal care products are accurately labelled, have established safety data and are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergies.

I had sort of known about the standards but was very impressed when I checked out the website to see the full measure of their policies and the practical ways these are implemented. It makes me even more impressed with their own store brand, 365 — to know that their own products are also made with strict standards of quality. (Which I knew empirically through use, but it’s nice to see it in print.)

Whew!  That was a lot to cover in one post!  Thanks for hanging in for the duration!

As a special gift for my San Diego readers, Whole Foods has given me a coupon good for Friday, June 27, 2014 only — at any of the San Diego Whole Foods locations: Del Mar, Encinitas, Hillcrest, and La Jolla….

(I love you, Whole Foods, but can you please open a store in East County? Thanks!)





Only a few days left of the Cetaphil Giveaway!

Galderma Laboratories, L.P. has generously provided a gift basket of goodies to soothe sensitive skin!

The Cetaphil Gift Basket of full-sized goodies!

The Cetaphil Gift Basket of full-sized goodies!

I received my gift basket in the mail — and these are generous, full-sized products!  (Review coming soon!)

Enter often!  You might win!

•             Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

•             Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths

•             Cetaphil RestoraDerm Skin Restoring Body Wash

•             Cetpahil RestoraDerm Skin Restoring Moisturizer

•             Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don’t forget to check out my post on the Breakup with you Makeup campaign — for a chance to win a trip to the Emmy’s!

VoxBox from Influenster Review

I received the VoxBox full of goodies for the “active” woman last month… and although I have been using all of the products, I have been so swamped with work and waiting for car repairs that I didn’t get the reviews written… so… today I am giving a BIG review of the whole box.

What's in the VoxBox!

What’s in the VoxBox!

This was an interesting mix of products.  I tried them all, except for the Mueller yogurt — because that was an item I had to get at the grocery store with the enclosed coupon — and I am very coupon-challenged.

The review for the Vitamin Shoppe’s Next Step weight management drink mixes is here.

Next, I decided to give myself a spa treatment as a reward for walking a 10k around the neighborhood. I actually used three of the review items:

Before I went on my 10k stroll, I decided to put the orthotics to the test.

VoxBox_ProfootOrthoticsBack They did fit nicely into my lower-profile walking shoes.


And even though they are slim and lightweight, they did provide good support and cushion.  I am very impressed with the ProFoot Orthotics.

Post 10k, I decided on a good soak.

AquaSpa Lavender and Chamomile Bath Soak with Marine Youth Complex

AquaSpa Lavender and Chamomile Bath Soak with Marine Youth Complex

The Aqua Spa Bath Soak claims to “revitalize tired muscles with this gently foaming, restorative soak and bath salt treatment that diminishes the signs of aging with Marine Youth Complex. Relax body and mind with an aromatic blend of lavender and chamomile for calming relief.

Ingredients: Magnesium Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Silica Silylate, Fragrance (Parfum), Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Saccharomyces/Silicon Ferment, Saccharomyces/Magnesium Ferment, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/Iron Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Red 33 Lake, Red 27 Lake, Blue 1 Lake

I am not sure whether I emerged from my bath with “diminished” signs of aging, but I can attest that it was a very relaxing and aromatic bath.  The scent was fresh and not chemically and my feet felt much better after a good soak.

According to the website, the Pedi-Rock:

With 3x the surface area of leading brands, Pedi-Rock provides softer feet in just 60 seconds. The ergonomic stone shape is easy to grip and the flex-soft material conforms to the curve of your heel. The outside is composed of silicon-carbide crystals that gently and completely eliminate calluses.

  • Use wet or dry
  • Soft, easy to grip shape
  • Easy to use, tough on calluses

I found the Pedi-Rock very easy to hold.  I used it in the bath and now it has a permanent home in my shower.  It really is much easier to use than traditional pumice stones because it’s big, it’s lightweight and it’s somewhat squishable.  Yes, the Pedi-Rock is not a rock at all but a firm foam egg covered with a lightly abrasive coating.  Genius!

The next item in my box to try was the Playtex tampons.

A tampon is not exactly an exciting thing to test-drive… and as someone in peri-menopause, I never know when my next period will arrive — sometimes I skip 3 months and then sometimes I have a period for 3 weeks straight… it’s like being a teenager again.  More pause, please and a little less meno….

Anyways, after a 3 month period holiday, I ended up with a doozy — and thank goodness I had this box of tampons in my bathroom.  I’m not so thrilled with the idea of  “odor shield technology and light scent.” I tend to shy away from anything that might be potentially irritating.  But what I did like was that the tampons open up like a cup, much like beloved tampons of my youth (the only ones that did the job in my opinion) that were pulled from the market because of toxic shock syndrome. Playtex has managed to revive that brilliant cup-shape — and in a comparison test with other tampons, this one really did work better.

I’m not so thrilled with the plastic applicator — which, although very effective, is just extra plastic going into the landfill, but I’m willing to accept its non-environmentally friendly nature because I like the tampons. In the future, I will replace this box with the unscented regular sport variety.  Kudos to Playtex!

The final item in my box was a package of almonds:


Blue Diamond Blueberry Almonds

These nommy almonds are supposed to be even better for you with the addition of Vitamin E.  Each 1 oz. serving of the almonds contain 160 calories, 5 g of protein, 3 g of dietary fiber,  and 6 g of sugar. The almonds also have 25 mg of sodium, 1 g of saturated fat, and zero g of trans fat. Other than the sodium levels, these are pretty healthy snacks. The blueberry flavor was very tasty.

All in all, this was a very useful group of items. I am the most impressed with the ProFoot orthotics  (and have already purchased a second set of orthotics for my other pair of walking shoes). I also really like the Pedi-Rock.  The tampons were also a surprise hit.

I hope I get chosen to do more VoxBox reviews!


Fitness Friday… bits and bobs…


It’s been an up and down week fitness-wise.

The downs: back to back grad nights Friday and Saturday…

If you are not aware of this modern custom of torture, here is a quick overview.  After a day of graduation celebrations, many high schools offer Grad Nights for their graduates.  These all-nighters usually start around midnight and end around 6:00am and include junk food, caffeinated drinks, music, dancing, and “entertainment”.

As a henna artist, I am an “entertainer” and even though grad nights are not my favorite events (for lots of reasons), I do them because they are big parties with guaranteed 3-4 hours of pay.

However, I do “pay” for them later…

In order to stay up all night, I drink Red Bull, Mountain Dew and Expresso drinks heavy on the expresso, chocolate and whipped cream.  I eat a ton of candy. And if the caring parent chaperones bring me bowls of ice cream, I accept gratefully.  And then when I get home at 7:00am, I crash and burn. No exercise (or movement of any sort) is done the next day… unless I have to get up to do another grad night… which I did last Friday and Saturday…. and then on Sunday, we decided to go for a big BBQ dinner at the newly re-opened Jones Brothers Mississippi BBQ down the street… it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Needless to say, I did not weigh myself this week.

The ups: I managed to get in at least 10,000 steps most days (except Saturday and Sunday). My walking partner (next door neighbor) and I meet most mornings for 3 miles of amiable chatting and gossip… it doesn’t feel like exercise at all! But those steps add up fast!

And I’ve started back up with my personal trainer at 180 Fitness. Preza Ford is a gentle man who manages to get me to do things I would never do on my own.

Fit Pods... instruments of balance and torture!

Fit Pods… instruments of balance and torture!

Look at those spiky little half-domes.  Would you step on those?  Well, at Preza’s invitation, I not only stepped on them, I did 3 sets of squats on them… and lunges, and then I did kettlebell swings… basic exercises that become a zillion times more challenging when you are trying not to lose your balance while standing on spiky half-domes.  And the next day, my abs hurt just as much as my quads… so I hightailed my way to Amazon and bought a pair…

I have yet to do 3 sets of squats on these puppies at home, but I did try doing dishes while balancing — and it made a basic chore into a full-body work-out.

The daily walks were easy to fit back into my schedule, but getting myself to do strength training at home is another story.  I was aiming for today… but then my car’s radiator blew out and I spent my spare time at the dealer and at the rental car place… fortunately, everything was covered under the warranty and the dealer even paid for my rental car so I could get to today’s gig.

Next free spot on the schedule: Sunday.  I plan to report to you next Friday how I did a full strength training session in addition to my daily 3 miles.

Harriette Thompson! My new heroine!  She finished the San Diego Rock-N-Roll Marathon last Sunday morning (the reason I had to find an alternate route home from one of my grad nights — roads were closed from 4:00am until 2:00pm). Now, just finishing is a big accomplishment in itself, but Harriette is a 91 year-old cancer survivor, who had her last treatment just weeks before the marathon. She finished in just over 7 hours!

And she didn’t start long-distance walking until she was 76!

What an inspiration!

I don’t have any week-ends I can spare for real races in the near future.  It is my lot to work most week-ends… but I can do virtual races to give me that kick of motivation to push myself.

So I registered for the Full Medal Runs Birthday Month Marathon.  The rules are simple: complete 26.2 miles by the end of your birthday month… how it gets done is up to me: 1 mile a day for 26 days, 8 5k events, 4 10k events, 2 half marathons or the full monty in one day…. The fee benefits the “Make a Wish” Foundation (which after reading the Fault in Our Stars by John Green, I now feel compelled to help fund…)

birthdaymarathonMy birthday month is July… so there are a few weeks to figure out how to do this… right now I am thinking of 4 10ks or 2 10ks and a half marathon…. the only difficulty with virtual races is that the race volunteers with the cups of gatorade are also virtual… so there are a few logistical challenges to doing a half marathon on my own that will have to be figured out before I commit to that path…

More to come…

Break Up with your Makeup… and a chance to win!

Disclosure: I’m participating in the Break Up with Your Makeup Blogger Contest Sponsored by Galderma Laboratories, L.P.

As a skincare junkie, I am a bit obsessed with my skin… and do what I can to keep it as healthy and glowing as possible.  However, sometimes bad things happen to good skin.  Although I have had bouts of stress-related eczema from time to time, I count myself as lucky to have not experienced symptoms of rosacea.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, rosacea  is a common skin condition characterized by facial redness, often with small,  red bumps that sometimes are pus-filled or look like acne. Rosacea can happen to anyone… but  women between the ages of 30-60 with fair skin and a family history of rosacea are at the highest risk.  As a middle-aged  woman of Irish-Norwegian-Czech descent, I’ve got 3 out of 4 risk factors. I could get rosacea at any time. Researchers have not pinned down a “smoking gun” cause for the condition and it can affect anyone at any time. Once you have it there are many triggers — including, spicy foods, strenous exercise, stress, and sunlight, among others. Some of those triggers are mighty difficult to avoid!

If left untreated, rosacea can get worse over time.The symptoms may flare up and then subside for months before flaring up again. Rosacea is often mistaken for an allergic reaction, adult acne or other skin problems.

Sufferers often try to hide their symptoms with heavy make-up or avoid going out in public altogether.  According to surveys conducted by the National  Rosacea Society:

…more than 76 percent of rosacea patients said their condition had lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem, and 41 percent reported that it had caused them to avoid public contact or cancel social engagements. Among rosacea patients with severe symptoms, 88 percent said the disorder had adversely affected their professional interactions, and 51 percent said they had even missed work because of their condition.

Fortunately, although rosacea cannot be prevented, it can be treated.

That’s why I’m excited that Mirvaso, the only FDA-approved treatment for the persistent redness of rosacea, is hosting this sweepstakes to raise awareness of the treatment, encouraging people to Break Up with Your Makeup.

Mirvaso works fast, providing same-day results that last up to 12 hours before the redness returns, leaving skin that’s beautiful to bare!

You can check out more information, and enter to win a trip to the Emmys in Los Angeles! 

Download rosacea infographic

Download rosacea make-up and beauty tips

In addition!  Galderma Laboratories, L.P. has generously provided a gift basket of goodies to soothe sensitive skin!

•             Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

•             Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths

•             Cetaphil RestoraDerm Skin Restoring Body Wash

•             Cetpahil RestoraDerm Skin Restoring Moisturizer

•             Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Important Safety Information Indication: Mirvaso® (brimonidine) topical gel, 0.33% is an alpha adrenergic agonist indicated for the topical treatment of persistent (nontransient) facial erythema of rosacea in adults 18 years of age or older. Adverse Events: In clinical trials, the most common adverse reactions (≥1%) included erythema, flushing, skin burning sensation and contact dermatitis.

Warnings/Precautions: Mirvaso Gel should be used with caution in patients with depression, cerebral or coronary insufficiency, Raynaud’s phenomenon, orthostatic hypotension, thromboangiitis obliterans, scleroderma, or Sjögren’s syndrome. Alpha-2 adrenergic agents can lower blood pressure. Mirvaso Gel should be used with caution in patients with severe or unstable or uncontrolled cardiovascular disease. Serious adverse reactions following accidental ingestion of Mirvaso Gel by children have been reported. Keep Mirvaso Gel out of reach of children. Not for oral, ophthalmic, or intravaginal use.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit WWW.FDA.GOV/MEDWATCH or call 1-800-FDA-1088.