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Tag Archives: Personal life

Taking Action For My Body

Growing up I was always on the skinny side. I am from India and was a strict vegetarian growing up. Hence my mom made sure we got good servings of vegetables and fruits every day. Fast forward 20 years, I got married and moved to United States with my husband.  I was alone, no friends, away from family and had no work (as I was on a dependent visa and couldn’t work). Food was my savior and I slowly started to put on weight as I found comfort in sweets. I got pregnant meanwhile and blamed the weight gain on pregnancy. A year after my daughter was born, I went to a party and all my friends were astonished by how big I was.

This was when I decided to take action for my body. I removed all of the sugars, unprocessed foods, soda, and any junk from the pantry and started eating clean. Working out was never my friend but Zumba changed my life. I lost 40 pounds and started running which I had never done in my life. I completed a 5k and hope to do many more in the future. Now I am working full time, and the happiest state I’ve ever been in my life.

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These days I blog over at Healthy Cooking ‘N’ Fitness sharing lots of healthy clean eating recipes and workouts which can be done in the comfort of your home. I make meal plans every week, cook healthily and make clean lunches and dinners most days.

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What Makes Me Feel Beautiful

I love food, I always have and I always will but over the last few years I’ve had to revamp my entire diet because of the worsening of my severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome and a recent diagnosis of Celiac Disease.  Foods that I had always eaten with no distress were now enemies to my digestive tract.  At first, I felt helpless to my conditions but through diet and exercise (as well as finally finding the right medication) I’ve been able to lessen my symptoms and it’s been my inspiration for getting creative in the kitchen!

My fitness journey began my senior year of high school, when I laughed at the idea of people who exercise for fun.  Me? Work out? That would never happen, but after taking my first Cardio Kickboxing class, I was hooked!  I loved the post-workout rush of endorphins seeping through my brain, creating a happiness that was like no other.

That happiness though was soon clouded with a vision of what it meant in my mind to be “fit.”  My only idea of a workout was cardio, and lots of it.  I would hit the gym, hop on a machine for 45 to 60 minutes in attempts to burn as many calories as possible and call it a day.  I wasn’t trying to become faster or stronger; I was, like many women in America, just trying to be skinny.

After forcing myself to finish Shaun T’s cruel and unusual punishment of Insanity, I had reached a plateau for working out.  I was NOT going to complete the program again and I did not want to go back to being a Cardio Bunny.  Through classes at my local gym, I found HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  I liked the idea of a super speed work out that got me just as sweaty in a shorter amount of time but I was still using the elliptical like it was my day job!  I would lift a few weights here or there but it wasn’t a focus or goal of mine.  The elliptical would continue to be my go-to-workout program.

Then, after a herniated disc injury, I saw a personal trainer to learn how to workout without causing pain or further damage to my back.  His first question left me dumb-founded, “What are your fitness goals?”  I just sat there, I had none.  For me, working out was something I did to maintain my weight but in that moment, I decided I needed to have a better purpose for getting my sweat on.  I decided I wanted to become stronger and increase my muscle tone.  During my senior year of college I was introduced to weight-lifting and fell in love.  Now, my typical workout is a combination of lifting/strength-training with HIIT moves in-between.

I have never felt better about myself, my body, or fitness level since I started lifting.

Lifting weights has boosted my confidence and appreciation and love for my body.  Self-love and body-love are two things that I think majority of women struggle with and I want to help them overcome those struggles.  I’ve stood in front of the mirror and picked myself apart or felt guilty after indulging in a sweet treat before, but why?  Because society tells us women that in order to be beautiful we must be stick-thin, super tall, wear makeup, and not lift heavy things.

WELL, I DISAGREE, be your own kind of beautiful.

To me, being beautiful is being happy.  What makes me happy?  Eating carbs, plates full of protein, spoonfuls of peanut butter, spending time with loved ones, wearing pink, sunshine on my face, loving my body as it is and no longer picking it apart, looking in the mirror and smiling at what I see, appreciating my body and all that it does for me, lifting weights, body weight cardio, staring in the mirror super sweaty at the gym and being proud of my progress.

Everyone’s definition of beautiful will be different.  Some people ask me why I want my arms to be muscular or what’s the point, girls don’t lift, and I smile and say, because it makes me feel beautiful and happy, and for me, that’s good enough.

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Clean Cosmetics: Favorites From My Beauty Bag – Part 1

[This post is part 1 of 2 on clean cosmetics and skincare (because I have a lot to say)].

You may have heard that we should be able to eat whatever we put on our skin. Think about it, skincare products and makeup seep in through your pores, so it is basically the same thing as eating it. Either way it gets into your body. This just means we should be a bit more aware when choosing our cosmetics. Many commercial products include toxic chemicals such as parabens (known to increase the risk of cancer) and heavy metals such as lead and mercury (which can contribute to neurological issues, digestive disorders, infertility, and cancer).

The ironic thing is, we put some of these things on our faces and bodies to make our skin look better, but overall they actually contribute to increased toxicity in the body which can promote dry skin, acne, or other skin conditions. When we use cleaner cosmetics, this is one less thing the liver has to filter out, reducing our overall toxic load and making our bodies healthier (read: glowing skin).

A couple years ago, I found that I had fairly high levels of lead and mercury in my body (thanks to a simple lab test). It was causing chronic fatigue and digestive distress. I went through a program called chelation designed to reduce the levels in my body. At that time, I made the decision to toss out toxic skin products and adopt some new, cleaner options. I was definitely worried that my new organic/natural products would not work as well as my former go-tos, but I was pleasantly surprised with the switch. The new makeup I found was equally as effective, lasted just as long, and actually smelled much nicer (think fresh essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances). I have also found several lines which offer a nice selection of colors and product offerings. The quality of my skin has definitely improved over the past couple years. I contribute some of this to a change in diet and lifestyle factors, but I also know that the switch to cleaner cosmetics has definitely helped.

Now I want to share with you some of my favorites from my beauty bag in case you are looking for recommendations. If you find any brands that you love, please feel free to share below in the comments section!

Beauty Balm

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This is a product available through Green Pasture. It is a blend of fermented cod liver oil, butter oil, and essential oils. I don’t use this all the time because it is a tad bit greasy, but I try to use it at night once in a while (and it helps to put it on and then lay a hot towel over your face to help it absorb). It makes your skin like a dream. Helps with dry skin, acne, wrinkles, you name it. It does have a very slight fish smell, but it is not that noticeable. It also smells a bit like butter, which I don’t really mind. It seems weird to put oil on your face, but it is so good for your skin and doesn’t clog your pores like you might expect it to.

Tarte “Gifted” Mascara

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This one is made with Amazonian clay, ooh la la! Mostly I was just concerned that it would work. It does, not too clumpy, lengthens lashes, and it lasts for a good amount of time. This is probably the best natural mascara I have used so far.

Bite Beauty Lipstick 

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I was looking for a good red shade recently because, you know, I like to add a little sass to my fras every once in a while. I found this new brand called Bite. It is food grade, so technically you could eat it (not recommended). It is nice to know that something you put on your lips is technically edible, though. I was quite pleased: beautiful, rich color; smooth, creamy texture; and decently long-lasting (especially when put over a lip liner). It also seems to be quite moisturizing.

Josie Maran Argan Matchmaker Serum Foundation (say that fast 3 times)

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Love this foundation! It is very light and it actually adjusts to your skin color. You lightly brush it on and it blends naturally. I also like the little pump that it comes with. Some foundations come in a bottle and you always end up glopping (yeah it’s a word) too much out at a time. I also love that it is made with nourishing, organic Argan oil. My skin tends to have dry patches and this formula helps to balance my skin tone.

Coconut Oil

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Those that know me well will tell you that I tout coconut oil as the cure-all for pretty much any problem. I am fairly sure it will bring around world peace at some point. Seriously, though, I use it a lot for my cooking, a few dabs in my hair, on my skin, to remove eye makeup and more. It is by far the best moisturizer and eye makeup remover I have found.

Due to it’s chemical structure, it is very easily absorbed by the skin. It also happens to be antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. Yay for the coconut! I use a small amount on my face before applying my foundation. I use it on my whole body when my skin is damp after a shower, and I apply a bit to wet hair before blow-drying it. I also sometimes put a few dabs on my hair after straightening it to ease frizz. To take off eye makeup, I rub a bit around my eyes, then use a wet cotton ball to pull of the makeup. Muah! Love you coconut oil! Just be sure to pick up an unrefined/extra virgin, cold-pressed variety. None of this expeller-pressed stuff.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I share my favorite eye shadow brand, blush, lip gloss, and more! Love your skin, and you’ll be in it to win! hehe

**I do not get any commissions from any of these brands. I just use them myself and like them!

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