Dealing with IBD: Going Gluten and Dairy Free For Real This Time

Greetings Daizies,

Health post here! Last year was a crucial year for me in finding out more about my stomach issues. Severe abdominal pain started becoming less of random flare ups a few times a year, to an every day occurrence. After several tests and months, the my stomach pain pointed to a form of Irritable Bowel Disease.

I’ve tried just about every supplement and suggested treatment for stomach pain there is. I even thought by minimizing my intake of desserts, cheese, and breads, that that would be enough. But after meeting with a naturopathic doctor, I learned that it takes about 6 weeks to get rid of the inflammation in your stomach. And right now my stomach has been inflamed every day for MONTHS. So treating myself with a tri-tip beef and peppered cheese steak and fries every week or so, sets me back. The stomach pain I feel can be from something that I eat days ago. Isn’t that crazy? So now I am on a mission to take cutting out Gluten and Dairy 100% for 6 weeks.

Reason

After doing the low-FODMAP diet, I noticed that gluten and dairy are trigger my stomach pain more often than other foods. It can be harder for my stomach to break down those foods and my intestines experience inflammation because of it. My first step, is cutting them out completely. Like not even a little treat, because even that little treat can have drastic effects during the week.

Although IBD isn’t described as a condition that’s caused by diet, what you put into your body does have an effect on how your system reacts holistically. I’m working with both a gastroenterologist and a naturopath so I can see both sides of the spectrum. I think the long term medicines work to help not feel the symptoms for a while, but I don’t want to be on immunosuppressive drugs the rest of my life. So I’m going to really try hard at this food thing. For the first 2 days of strictly not eating any of the foods I’m avoiding, I can say I haven’t had my usual flare ups. I know it’s only been a few days but that is a huge change seeing as how it’s something I’ve experienced daily for the past 7 days. I feel optimistic about not letting this control my life and that I will go fully in remission 🙂

Favorite recipes so far

Now I am not 100% perfect in identifying what is and is not gluten, but I’m trying. So if you see something that has gluten in it, let me know! It’s really day 2 with no slip ups. I’m making sure I’m eating enough so I don’t feel hungry and fall back to bad habits.

  • Ground chicken sandwich and fries (substitute the Hawaiian bread I was using for a GF bread)
  • Panko breaded chicken strips ( minimal oil, trying not to eat as much fried foods)
  • Spicy jammy drummies (LOVE this recipe from Chrissy Teigan’s cookbook)
  • Pan seared chicken and Spanish rice
  • Egg noodles and beef
  • Bacon, eggs, and GF cinnamon & raisin bread
  • Fruit smoothies

Non-food health changes

Another interesting thing I noticed is that when I’m on vacation outside of the country, I have NO stomach flare ups and eat literally anything I want. You know why? I am completely stress free on vacation and the food anywhere outside of the U.S. is just way fresher. This is eye-opening, because my body reacts to how I’m feeling (not worrying) and the state of the food I’m digesting (completely fresh and unprocessed). Stress manifests differently in different people. So I am trying to eliminate encountering the things that negatively impact my stomach on an everyday basis.

Food is just one part of my long term health for beating IBD. Along with making diet changes I want to make some lifestyle changes to help me deal with stress which affects my digestive system for sure.

  • Eat dinner before 9 pm
  • Get in the bed before 11:30 pm
  • Actually use mindfulness apps
  • Have more fun
  • Get monthly massages

Looking forward to a successful journey. I can do this!

Wishing health and wellness to you all,

Advertisements

Natural Hair Milestone: I Did My Own BOX BRAIDS!

Greetings Daizies,

This year one of my natural hair goals was to do more protective styles all by myself. In the past I have done crochet braids often which always turned out great. I tried doing my own singles almost 4 years ago, in the picture above and while I rocked them for a bit, I thought I would never do my own braids again. Getting the right grip, finding the time, and having the outcome of neat braids seemed like something that just wasn’t in my ministry. So for years I had to find someone to do my braids every time I wanted them done.

This all changed after seeing how amazing my hair turned out with marley twists last December. I surprised myself because, having attempted them before a few years ago, I struggled with twisting tight enough so that they wouldn’t unravel. But I tried it again and my confidence in doing all the styles I thought I couldn’t do had peaked. So last weekend, I set out two nights to just enjoy my new tv while braiding my hair.

Braiding Hair

The braiding hair has a lot to do with the braiding experience PERIODT. I really think Xpression braiding hair is the best. I compared it to a pack of hair I had left over and it was way better in terms of texture and look. So when doing your own hair, getting quality hair will help so much so that you don’t find yourself getting frustrated with tangles and shedding, which ultimately slows down the whole process.

I definitely overestimated the amount of hair that I would need. I bought 8 packs but only used 3 1/2. Cutting each pack in half allowed for box braids that were waist length.

Learnings

Feathering the hair adds some length. So when it seemed like cutting each pack in half would turn out with braids shorter than I wanted, feathering the ends before braiding created better usage of the hair’s length. Feathering in general was a critical step in braiding because it kept the braids from unravelling. Sometimes I would have to redo them if the ends weren’t layered enough.

Turning on a good movie was key. I scrolled through Netflix’s Oscar Nominee category and watched this movie called Lion. It was such a good movie. I had my oil diffuser on and had a fun night finishing my hair.

I was very mindful with neatness and keeping the braids straight all the way down. I can tell when a strand’s loop starts to twist and turn so I would just start over from where it got messy instead of rushing to get done.

Also grip wasn’t something I had trouble with this time. I think after having more experience doing my hair, it was easier to loop the braiding hair to my natural hair this time.

All together I would say it took about 9 1/2 hours between two nights. I really love the outcome. I hadn’t attempted to braid my hair in 4 years and this whole time I thought it was just something not apart of my skillset lol. But I got better and would’ve never known had I not tried again. The moral of the story is, if at first you don’t succeed you dust yourself off and try again.

Remember,

No-heat Curl Techniques for Natural Hair

Greetings Daizies,

One thing I love about natural hair is how versatile it is and the fun you can have with trying new styles. You can morph your hair into different patterns and styles without changing your natural texture. If you’re looking to rock a new curl style but don’t want to use heat on your hair, there are an array of methods you can try to achieve the look you want. Granted, a lot of these take time and practice but it’s great to experiment and learn as you go.

Flexi rods

Flexi rods are literally exactly as they sound. They are rods that have a felt type of texture but a flexible wire in the middle so that you can bend around your hair. The thing with this method is that you have to have some time on your hands. And I mean time time. When done correctly, I have seen such beautiful results.

Tools needed:

  • Flexi rods
  • Wide tooth comb
  • Foaming or setting lotion

You can either try this on wet hair or stretched dry hair. If you want small spirals, you will use smaller sections of hair and more flexi rods. For bigger spirals use larger sections and the thicker flexi rods. With my first attempt, I started running out of flexi rods and had to cram large sections of hair onto the skinnier flexi rods, which I’m sure affected my outcome. I purchased the 42 pack which I thought would be enough, but for thick natural hair, I would recommend twice that amount or starting off with blown out hair. My hair was stretched from day 3 twist out and my hair required way more rods than I planned for.

Foams such as Lottabody Foaming Mousse are great styling products to use for flexi rods and perm rods as well. It’s a wet product that helps mold your hair to the shape of the rod. Make sure your hair is dry before taking the rods out. Take your time when putting the flexi rods in and taking them out. Don’t rush the process.

Perm rods

Perm rods are similar to flexi rods except they are shorter and made of hard plastic. They are slightly more comfortable to sleep in and I had a better experience since I had one consistent size of rods.

Like with flexi rods, patience and neatness is key. I used Lottabody Foaming Mousse again but I’m sure any curl smoothie-type of product would work. In small-medium sections, wrap your hair firmly around the perm rod neatly tucking the end under the previous loop of hair. Clasp the rod with the cap and move on to the next strand. This takes around 2-3 hours depending on how fast you work.

Twist-out

Twist-outs are a natural hairstyle staple. You can do very large twists depending on time or desired look or do a more detailed twist out by twisting in smaller sections. I like using creams rather than foams for my twists.

By year 2 of my natural hair journey, my twist-outs had improved dramatically. I had learned to take a firm grip and not lose that same energy throughout the twist. It helps to glide my finger around the strand as I moved it around to form the twist. Being firm and taking my time are the keys to success.

Curl formers

I’ve seen this method a lot on Instagram and the process is mesmerizing to watch. I haven’t tried this one yet but I’d be interested to see how it turns out. It involved using a hook to pull your hair through each curl former. It looks like it works on 4c hair as well.

Bantu knots

Bantu knots were one of the first styles I tried when I did the big chopped. I loved the way it gave me sleek natural looking curls. You can even rock the bantu knots for a while before unravelling them. I found it helpful to complete a full twist, as if going for a twist out, and then circling into the bantu spiral. This gives me more definition when taking down my hair.

IG: @actually_ashly

Have you tried any of these methods or other ones not mentioned?

As always,

How to Get Out of the Post-Travel Blues

I went through my blog drafts and came across a brief entry expressing how I felt after coming home from a semester abroad in Italy. I remember vividly feeling the way I felt. It doesn’t seem that long ago actually, but 2017 really was an entire 2 years ago. There is much that has changed but I appreciate the journey that it took to get here. I still went on one more study abroad trip after the exchange and it was well worth it. I encourage anyone in college to study abroad as many times as they can! Now that I’ve graduated, I have gotten used to shifting from study abroad as my way of exploring the world to getting comfortable living in one place but planning to travel at least every 3 months this year, with solo travel being a required yearly thing.

Coming back to reality can be such a drag, especially after what was probably the time of your life and seeing so much of the world. Even after trips that are 3-5 days, there’s the reluctance to get back to work and the routine of life at home. My experience with this is to give myself time but not too much time to dwell. Capturing the amazing moments in a creative and productive way keeps my mind moving as I reminisce. Creating a vlog, or writing a blog is a productive way to document all of the fun so that there is a tangible outcome of spending hours looking through pictures and videos of all of the fun I had.

Cinque Terre 2016

Stay productive and live in the moment

It’s true, right after touching down in the U.S. I immediately went on the study abroad page to find a new program I could apply for with one more year of college left. There is nothing wrong with being on the lookout to get out of the country again and by the way things are looking I’d wanna get out of here as much as possible. My advice is to treat it as a thing that you’re doing to nurture your love of travel not to avoid your actual life. You will be in your city more than you will be abroad. Home is what you will always come back to so take steps to improve your life where it is. I did this by making plans to do something new and visit a new place in the city at least twice a month. It has also helped now to recognize my thoughts in my head days prior to coming home and thinking of the positive things to look forward to when I come home or goals I want to accomplish. Thinking of the new goals you can set for yourself helps put some positivity into the “back to the reality” feelings of coming home. I learned that I want to be happy for the several months I’m home so that the travels are even more rewarding and I an feel happy all the way through without spending the last few days dreading coming home.

Puerto Vallarta 2018

For a lot of times coming back home means back to responsibilities and actual work. We all have to work and go to school and take care of others sometimes which is apart of life. One way to manage these stressors is to incorporate the self care activities normally associated with a vacation, into your life at home. I got more massages when I was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico than the entirety of the year. I think I should actually do more of that and not deprive myself of the amazing pampering of a massage. We don’t have to wait till a vacation every few months to do vacation-like activities. The more things we do to make ourselves smile, the better I think our days will be.

Take a glimpse into my 21 year old feelings coming back to America:

January 17, 2017

“I’ve come back to the United States for studying abroad twice now. The first time I came back from an exploration seminar and couldn’t stop thinking about London for months after I came back. I literally cried as I was getting on the plane. This time, I was gone for four months in Italy and I felt prepared coming home. No tears. I don’t find myself constantly thinking about Italy exactly but more of the feeling of traveling. I miss how  normal it was to be in Milan for a few days only to prepare for my next trip to a completely different place. I’m trying to find a new normal. A few days ago, it felt like I was in the same place I was at the start of last year. Wondering what’s next. Wanting to leave again. Each time studying abroad I felt free. Life was exciting. I was in beautiful places constantly and learning more things. How can I feel the same excitement and freedom in my actual country? As my college experience comes to an end, I realize that studying abroad can’t always be my goal for the year. I’ve already accomplished some amazing global goals as an undergraduate. So right now I am just waiting for something new again. Trying to find what I find when traveling but somewhat in everyday life.

Now that I’m back it feels like I’m starting college all over again but at the same time it seems like everything is exactly how I left it. My eyes see Seattle but my head is still traveling.”

Fun times. Fun times. May the travels continue in abundance.

Reflection: Pushing Past the “Resistance” to Moving Higher

I consider myself a very imaginative person. I am constantly thinking of new ideas in my head and find myself brainstorming new business ideas and things I can create. Ever since I was a kid, I often jotted down ideas for clothing designs, hair styles, products, and even song lyrics. Being creative has always been apart of who I am. This is all important to consider because as we grow up, that imaginative side to us can seem to dim down and the reality and pressures of life can make you want to be “realistic”. You start dialing back those huge dreams and shape them into what you “think” you can do or what you think you’re good enough for.

 Over the weekend I encountered some internal thinking that literally aligned with the recent podcast episode from Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations titled “Unlock Your Creative Genius”. In this episode Oprah interviewed Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, as he shared insights on how to express our deepest ambitions. He believes we all are creative in some way and shared his insights on how to break through those barriers we face to reach our creative goals. This episode was on time and in time for me. In 2018 I launched Curl Calendar. It was the first time I put something out that was a long-term idea that I thought of for well over a year. I felt like I had broken the obstacle of having an idea just stay in my mind. In 2019, I plan to keep going with my entrepreneurial spirit and ambitions. Within one week I had found some really great webinars on Facebook from women sharing their tips and steps to help people turn their hobbies into businesses. A lightbulb went off in my head about something I’m good at that I could offer as a service. I got so excited and the adrenaline of a new ideas was running through my head. I set out to plan my idea fully over the weekend as a business planning workshop for myself.

I started doing research on one element of my idea and tried to put myself in the zone of where I would begin if I was actually starting the project. I started to think maybe I wasn’t experienced enough to do this thing I wanted to do. Maybe there wasn’t a need for what I was trying to provide. Was I going to be good at it? I spent 15 minutes in self-doubt and almost became overwhelmed with the thoughts to the point I just wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon watching Netflix. I looked at the time and it was only 45 MINUTES into my workshop. In less than an hour I had negative thoughts darting into my glow and excitement to embark on a new journey. I recognized what was happening. It was fear, it was all negativity. I talked to myself and told myself to finish what I started and that I couldn’t quit before I even gave myself a chance to see something through. I had spent days exciting to write out my goals and plans for this idea and as soon as I actually started, my internal thoughts of insecurity and doubt wanted to hold me back. I said nope, not today and continued on with my workshop and made so much progress that day.

“What happens first is the dream and resistance is the shadow”. Resistance always takes the form of fear. A shadow trying to pull you away from the dream. You have to make the decision to move forward. ”

Steven Pressfield

The feeling was so familiar and now Steven Pressfield had put a name to it, resistance. Everyone experiences it. It always finds itself prevalent in our brains when we are headed in a new direction and about to push ourselves and embark on things like entrepreneurial endeavors, new career opportunities, or even evolve emotionally.

“The more important an activity is to your soul’s evolution, the higher resistance you’ll feel. The more fear you’ll feel”

Steven Pressfield

I said well would you look ah there. Every single time there is something new coming up, it never fails to have those feelings, that shadow of resistance that wants me to stay where I am and abort whatever idea, big or small, that I may have. I recognize it now and I am glad that I do because now I can be mindful of it and be strong to not let it defeat my purpose.

One thing that resonated with me in the discussion was that that resistance isn’t really us talking. It’s not our best selves, it’s not representative of our values and motives. So don’t beat yourself up…for beating yourself up. That energy that is doubting yourself, is apart of the process. It happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a negative person and that you don’t want to see your own self succeed. What’s important is that you acknowledge what’s going on in your head and not give those thoughts any more power and energy. It goes back to the notion of being mindful. I started being a lot more mindful which is why I ended up having that conversation out loud saying “Yup, there’s that voice in my head with these thoughts of doubt, fear, and insecurity. There’s no reason to feel like that actually. You are more talented than you think. Now let’s regroup and finish this”.

I think I did a good job. What I learned from the episode only further validates what I was thinking and how I practiced pushing past the resistance. With that being said, in 2019 I am stepping into all of my gifts and talents. When I was 12, there was a poster on the wall in class that said “you’ll never know the outcome until you try” and I decided that that was my motto a while back. I’m reclaiming that motto now at 23, unapologetically. Who am I to even stop myself?

Why Black Women Should Own a Cat

Greetings Daizies,

I’ve thought a lot about writing this blog post. There are so many reasons a person should get a cat, but I wanna speak directly to us black girls. I feel like cats have gotten a bad rep and even heard people say “black people don’t like cats.” No one really talks about it but I think cats are the perfect pet for black women. There hasn’t been enough praise for cats and more black women especially need to know why cats are the most amazing animals on earth.

1.Cats are your ride or dies for when it comes time to do your hair

Ladies, it takes sometimes several hours for a perfect twist out, braid out, or even just detangling. Not many people want to sit around and watch the process. Your hands are getting weak, your arms are trembling with fatigue, you’re almost about to give up when you look to your side and a beautiful and encouraging creature is sending you positive energy to keep on going with your natural hair tasks. Cats are there for you and your hair care. They want you to reach your hair goals! I could stop right there but I can keep going.

2. Give and receive love from a breathing being that requires very little from you

As black women we take care of just about everything. Kids, intermediate families, work, school, the bills…everything. We’ve been responsible for juggling many demands ever since we were old enough to and sometimes even before then. Imagine coming home to a breathing that doesn’t need much but your love and your love only. They are just as independent as you are and aren’t looking for you to do basic things like bath them, but just want to be cuddled and pet. If you’re feeling drained during the day, you won’t have to worry about another thing just zapping your energy from you. Cats give you the love you may sometimes feel like the rest of the world isn’t giving. All of this without the constant maintenance that other pets may require *cough cough*dogs.

3. Cats support you in your self care journey

As I type this blog, my cat Spencer offers his support

As I mentioned with cats and your natural hair journey, cats are patient with you in your journey to improve your overall self care. They are still, they are calm, and they are understanding. Lots of self care habits take time, such as doing yoga, journaling, or a face mask. You know what has the patience to sit by you throughout all of these processes? A loving and doting cat. Just wanting to support you and your heart’s desires. If you’re doing sedentary work like writing an essay or brainstorming, you’ll have a cuddly ball of joy to sit on your lap and make sure you finish what needs to be done. When you look down at them you won’t want to disturb them unless absolutely necessary which in return results in more productivity and a better chance of finishing what you start.

4. Be entertained but not agitated

Get lost in the antics of a cat sprinting across the room. Watch them unravel a bundle of yarn. See how interested they are as you unbraid your hair and take down the kanekalon. Or watch your cat simply watch you. Cats are can be a form of calm or upbeat entertainment without having to pay a monthly subscription like Netflix.

5. Cats increase health

The soothing vibration of a cats purr can stimulate the happy brain cells and increase overall happiness. Just letting a cat lay down on you and purr can relieve so much stress. The vibration of a cats purr is in the range of 20 hertz to 140 hertz and vibrations in this range are known to be effective in treating many diseases. Owning a pet in general helps reduce stress and lower our blood pressure. But cats in particular help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The American Stroke Association found that people who don’t own cats are 40% more likely to have heart disease or strokes. SO while you’re actively getting your life together, the extra added bonus of having a cat in your life just further adds to your black girl magic.

More black women should have cats. If you had a bad experience with a cat or two back in the day, don’t let that have you write off cats forever. They are truly pleasant little angels that are necessary for self care and will be there as you grow and thrive.

How to Keep Your Hair Looking and Feeling Fresh While in Protective Styles

This is the perfect season to rock protective styles. The weather is cold in many places which signals dryness for a lot of people with natural hair. But just because your hair is tucked away in braids or twists, doesn’t mean you can slack off with taking care of your hair. It does more harm than good if you forget about your hair for weeks and then expect to see the benefits of low maintenance styles in the end. Here’s some way to get the most out of protective styling while also making sure your hair is still cared for.

Cleanse your scalp

Have you ever had a style that still looked cute but your scalp itched so bad you’d rather take it down instead? Getting a couple of scalp cleanses in the duration of the style can help it last longer and not lead to the uncomfortable itchiness that makes you want to take your hair down as fast as possible. It may seem like an impossible task to wash your hair when in styles like braids or twists, but you can still cleanse your scalp and you’ll probably be more comfortable because of it. You don’t want to deprive your scalp of a good cleanse for several weeks, which leads to build up of product and dirt. Washing your hair while in braids or twists won’t take nearly as long as when your hair is out and free. I cleanse my scalp every 2 weeks when in braids, crochet, twists or any protective style. I’ve managed to do this without getting all of my braids wet and it taking days to dry. Since the focus is on your scalp you’ll need:

  • a spray bottle
  • conditioner
  • water
  • hair bands

Wash Day method

  1. Mix 1/3 cup of shampoo into 2/3 cup of water into spray bottle
  2. Section hair into fourths
  3. Start with one section and left the ends of your hair up and spray directly onto your scalp
  4. Massage the mixture gently onto your scalp
  5. Repeat until each section is complete
  6. To rinse, fill the spray bottle with water and in the same fashion lift one section of hair up so that the water only runs onto your scalp
  7. Rinse each section

I use more water than shampoo for wash day in this case so that I am not disrupting the neatness of my hair with all of the lather that comes with shampoo. Lifting the ends of my hair up and out of the way helps for long hairstyles and to avoid the trouble of trying to go to sleep with wet braids. You can always blow dry you hair if it does get wet, but I like to avoid this all together. After shampooing, I condition in the exact same manner. I dilute the conditioner and complete the process just as with the shampoo.

Tools needed for conditioning:

  • Spray bottle
  • Conditioner
  • Water

Daily Moisturizing

The point of a protective style is to have your hair protected for an extended period of time. Your hair is mostly protected which is good, however applying a moisturizer to your scalp and to the exposed pieces of your hair will aid in healthy scalp maintenance and preventing dryness to exposed strands. After wearing twists for several weeks, there are pieces of my natural hair that I can see sticking out. My natural hair and the extensions are the same color but I can obviously tell where my hair is showing by the texture. Since this part of my hair is now exposed to the environmental elements that can cause dryness, I apply a leave-in conditioner and coconut oil to the twists I know have pieces of my hair showing. It’s easier to tuck those pieces in especially once moisturized.

Even lightly spritzing your style can add some life and longevity to your look. I fill my spray bottle with water, vitamin E oil, almond oil, and castor oil to quickly moisturize my scalp and freshen up my twists every few days. This adds extra some shine and sheen to my hair.

Redo your edges or the front of your hair bi-weekly

For braids, twists, faux locs, or other styles that are installed individually, you can revamp a style that’s getting fuzzy in the front by simply redoing the first row or two every couple of weeks. My goal was to keep my twists in for six weeks and I was able to do this while keeping them looking almost brand new by redoing the front rows. There were also a few pieces here and there that bothered me throughout my hair, so when I had time I just redid them so that I could get the most out of my hairstyle.

Don’t keep your style in too long

All good things do come to an end. While you can keep a style in and looking great for a while, you don’t want to leave the style in forever and risk your hair matting up with build up. The recommended time to wearing a protective style is around 4-8 weeks. For me I wear my styles for about 6 weeks. It’s important to give your hair a full wash and deep condition after having your hair tucked away for a while, and also give your hair some time to be free.