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 @Neecy One more thing I forgot to mention, in response to your comment:  I understand how a lot of people new to yoga feel when they first walk into a yoga class ("Everyone in here is so much more advanced than me..."), but here's what you'll find:  nobody's studying you.  And I mean that in the kindest of ways.  They're too busy focused on what's happening on their mat. As yoga is a deeply personal experience and exploration, yogis tend to tune out what's taking place on the mats around them, because they've got enough to concentrate on just in trying to figure out how their body decided to show up today.  Nobody's looking around to see, assess and judge you, whether you look like you know what you're doing, how many times you fall out of a pose, or have to take child's pose.  (I once had someone on the mat next to me fall right on their ass and knock me over in the process, and both of us just laughed, picked ourselves up and jumped right back into our respective poses...she with the headstand again, and me with the modified shoulder stand version.)  It's not that serious!  The assumption is that everyone has to start somewhere, and falling out of poses is actually encouraged and recognized as growth, because it means your body is actively "rewiring" to meet the challenge of moving and holding poses in a different way.  So please don't feel self-conscious about it.  Seriously, no one cares, so you are fine showing up exactly as you are.  (If the instructor notices you struggling, she may come by to give you a silent assist before moving on to make an adjustment on the next person, but that's par for the course.)

1 year, 5 months ago on How to Pack It: Go from Home-to-Work-to-Gym-to-Date

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 @Neecy I know, right?  Had I known Lululemon was going to discontinue them (purple toiletry bag), I would have grabbed two.  I should have known something was up when I picked it up at such a great sales price.  That was 2 years ago, and I haven't seen another one on the market like it, since.  Still looking...I'll let you know if I come across something similar.

 

And yes, I've been using Clarisonic for 3+ years now.  Loved it so much, I bought the mini-size Mia for travel purposes, as you can see.  You will not be sorry with your purchase!  It has done wonders for my complexion.  I ditched the product that comes with it, though, and only use Purity by Philosophy as my facial cleanser.  Enjoy!

 

Come to yoga exactly as, and where, you are.  You can use a home video if that would make you feel more comfortable (I'd recommend Yoga for the Warrior DVD by Bob Harper, of Biggest Loser fame, currently a steal on Amazon for $6.90, link:  http://amzn.com/B00429C1VQ).  However, i strongly recommend you just dive right in to a studio class experience, where you can get excellent assists that will help you develop good form out the gate.  Don't even worry about finding a beginner class; good yoga instructors of all class formats welcome and know how to work with students of all levels.  And remember:  no one comes to yoga already flexible.  That's backwards.  It's only through regular practice that your flexibility improves, so waiting to achieve that "before" you go to yoga class, is putting the egg before the chicken.  So proudly walk that inflexible bod of yours into that yoga class, that's what it's there for!!  You'll be splayed out in frog pose in no time.  

 

Thanks for the kind words!  And keep me posted on your yoga journey.

1 year, 5 months ago on How to Pack It: Go from Home-to-Work-to-Gym-to-Date

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 @Blanc2 Thanks for offering up another minimalist shoe option!  For sure, we all have different preferences, so it's helpful to give folks additional alternatives.  I encourage everyone to try on as many different brands and models as they can, to determine what works for them.  (Just be on the lookout for counterfeit and poor quality models thrown out on the market by companies trying to jump on the minimalist footwear bandwagon.)

 

I'm 46, so I hear you loud and clear about your impact issues.  For me, it was pain in my arches, which completely went away once I made the move to minimalist footwear.  I'm one of those folks who lives in athletic and yoga wear once I leave the studio on the weekends to run errands, so I was able to extend the benefits outside the gym/studio by keeping my Vibrams on for extended periods, without it looking out of place. Got so used to how my feet felt in them, I would get salty when I had to go back to regular shoes.  Even still, giving my feet a break from traditional footwear just those few hours a day, definitely helped reverse my arch problems. (Magic lies not so much in the shoe itself, but the way it forces you to change the way you walk.)  

1 year, 6 months ago on Barefoot Training? Try it. Your feet, knees and back may thank you.

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 @tracyreneejones Don't hate.  Come on, you know you want to join us :-)  And I wear a 9 1/2, so I know all about big feet, but I could care less.  Seriously, you will get more people stopping you on the street out of friendly interest and curiosity ("How do your toes feel in them?) and envy ("Where can I buy a pair?!?") than anything else.  They make walking outside in nice weather, a sheer and utter joy.

1 year, 6 months ago on Barefoot Training? Try it. Your feet, knees and back may thank you.

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 @IntegratedMemoirs Noted, we're on the same page.  If you're seriously into hiking, and ever decide to try out the Vibrams, a good one for you would be the Women's Spyridon:

http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/products/Five-Fingers-Spyridon-Womens.htm

I have the older model of this same shoe, and they are fantastic for rugged terrain.  But I understand your caution.  If you ever do take the plunge, though, it'll only take a week and then you'll be a raving convert, like the rest of us!

1 year, 6 months ago on Barefoot Training? Try it. Your feet, knees and back may thank you.

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 @Oaktown Paul  Thanks for reminding me about this book!  Someone else told me about it months ago, but I forgot to follow through in looking it up.  Adding this to my Kindle reading list, and I'll let you know what I think.  

 

Along these same lines, and still in my reading queue (but at least it made it over from my Kindle downloads, to my iPad) is:  Finding Ultra:  Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, by Rich Roll.  About a guy who went from a 50lbs overweight couch potato and substance abuser who couldn't even climb a flight of steps without stopping, to serious Ultramarathon (3-Day, 320-mile, double ironman distance triathlon) contender in just 6 months.  At the age of 42.  And who trained entirely on a plant-based diet to get there, to which all the naysayers told him he was crazy and would surely fail.  Now that's a sports-minded story I can get behind.

1 year, 6 months ago on Barefoot Training? Try it. Your feet, knees and back may thank you.

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 @IntegratedMemoirs That's the only issue with the term "barefoot running," is that people hear it, make an association in their mind of its literal meaning (and rightly so), and forget or don't know that it also is used to broadly encompass running or training in minimalist footwear, like the Vibrams.  (That's the context I'm using it in, for purposes of this post.  Check out the third link "Barefoot Running: Create a Personal Plan for Success.")  

 

I'm with you - you won't catch me scorching my foot bottom bareback, on the hot concrete.  I'll leave that action to the Kenyans, or those who've been training that way so long in hot environments, that the bottoms of their feet remain unaffected.  (Similar to people who practice walking on hot coals, to the point where it no longer burns them.)  As for me,"Barefoot Running" means my Vibrams and the thin layer of rubber they provide between my feet and the asphalt.  Baby steps!

1 year, 6 months ago on Barefoot Training? Try it. Your feet, knees and back may thank you.

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 @VintageNarcissa Try applying 100% pure shea butter at night, then sleeping with socks on.  That deep intensive overnight treatment should help counteract the intensity and frequency of your workouts.

1 year, 6 months ago on Barefoot Training? Try it. Your feet, knees and back may thank you.

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 @The Working Home Keeper I know, right?  I don't know what it is about that man that enthralls me so much, but I know that besides his cool demeanor, it has a lot to do with his voice.  (That hybrid Cajun-sounding accent, though he's from Virginia - go figure).  They flashed a picture of him when he was a younger man, with his now-deceased father, and he was quite easy on the eyes, let me tell you.  Still a bit of a handsome devil.  (He works those overalls, doesn't he?)

1 year, 6 months ago on Barefoot Training? Try it. Your feet, knees and back may thank you.

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 @SirLoinDeBeef So glad it worked out for you!  I'm not a big fan of microwave cooking, so unfortunately I don't have any experience or tips to lend, but perhaps someone else who's tried cooking potatoes that way, can weigh in.  So far, sounds like folks are having the most luck with baking, as you did.

1 year, 6 months ago on I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease

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 @Karla Good for you, Karla!  I'm telling you, the more you drink this smoothie, the more you'll come to crave and look forward to it.  After 18 months I've never tired of the chocolate version, but just so you're aware, if you're ever looking for flavor variety, the company Vega just released a French Vanilla flavor of the meal replacement powder, that goes real well mixed half-and-half with the chocolate flavor.  I always keep a supply of each flavor on hand to mix it up every now and then, or introduce to friends and family members who prefer vanilla over chocolate.  

1 year, 6 months ago on Detox that holiday meal! The Everything Smoothie to the rescue

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 @Caviar50 Told you!  A sweet potato/yam that doesn't need to be dressed or sweetened in any way to taste absolute delicious, is like liquid gold to those trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  You can't beat it!  As you all are aware from my previous post...

 

http://www.beyondblackwhite.com/?s=smoothie&h=Go

 

...I rely on my Everything Smoothie for breakfast to keep my appetite in check, but this Korean roasted yam is fast becoming my "Plan B" for mobile meals or snacks on the run, especially on long road trips or to/from the gym.  Now I just need to figure out how to convert a sweet potato muffin recipe for this Korean yam, which I can then spike with my protein powder...

1 year, 6 months ago on I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease

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 @ForeverSerenity You don't have to tell me...my family is Jamaican, so there was always a pot of boiled yams or green bananas on my mother's stove.  Turned my mother on to these, and she didn't hesitate to whip some up to serve with a Sunday spread of ackee and saltfish.  (There was something about the sweetness of the roasted Korean yam, in contrast with the saltiness of the codfish, with the milder ackee flavor in the middle of the two...so good)

1 year, 6 months ago on I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease

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 @Oaktown Paul  No worries!  Yep, they last really well, so long as you keep them stored in a fairly cool place like an enclosed pantry, etc.  Or, I just throw them in a hanging fruit basket until I'm ready to use them, but I do notice that if exposed to air and sunlight for prolonged periods (2+weeks), like any potatoes they start to go stale on you.  (But they never stick around that long in my house!)  I also roast them 3 at a time at the beginning of the week, and just keep them in the fridge.  They reheat really well, and are great for those nights when you rush home from work and need to throw something together quickly.  TIP:  If you plan ahead and (1) keep pre-seasoned or pre-marinated salmon steaks in your fridge and (2) triple the miso dressing recipe on weekends and also keep in the fridge, you can throw a gourmet meal together on a weeknight in, like, 8 minutes.  Because you've kept the salad-vs-dressing ingredients separated in the fridge, the green bean salad can then be tossed fresh every time, and it pairs great with roasted salmon, which only takes 2 minutes of searing stovetop, after which I throw the whole skillet in my oven broiler for another 5-6 minutes, to top it off.   

1 year, 6 months ago on I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease

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 @SparklyAquaMetaphysics Thanks for reminding me about the sweet potato noodles!  I'd read about them, and had been meaning to search for them during my next trip to the Asian market.  I hear they (sweet potato noodles) are sold dry, and not in the water-packed form like, say, the Shirataki noodles made from tofu that you find in their refrigerated sections.  True?

 

Just saying that reminded me of something else.  (Note to self:  scoop out roasted yam flesh and try hand at making sweet potato biscuits...)

1 year, 6 months ago on I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease

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 @mzsunshine  @Brenda55 I would think you could try roasting it the standard way, in the oven.  Not sure what temp to suggest, you might have to play around with it.  The issue with the oven might be, and I'm just guessing here, is that it might have a slightly more drying effect, more like "baked potatoes" than "roasted potatoes."  The yams are certainly cheap enough, so you can afford to experiment around and see what alternatives might work best.  The Asian cuisine is big on roasting , so if you can get to an Asian grocer with a large appliances section, no telling what else you might find there that would do the trick.  My tip would be to look for something that keeps the yam contained in as small a space as possible, with a tight cover that has a tiny hole at the top, where the dry steam can really circulate in a tight area but not build up so much that it creates excess moisture in the cooking chamber.  Traditional steaming over a pot with boiling water might be an option, though be prepared to wind up with more of a damp outcome, since you're working with wet, and not dry, steam.  Hope this helps!

1 year, 6 months ago on I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease

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 @Brenda55 Good deal.  If you're lucky enough to find the pot, here's what you do:  pierce each potato all around with a fork (you should be able to fit 3 in the pot at a time).  Then baste with a little extra-virgin olive oil.  To prevent sticking, spray the little metal rack inside with canola oil (don't waste your good olive oil on that.)  Pre-heat the burner to the highest setting, then place the potatoes in for 5 minutes at the highest setting.  The bottom might char a little, but that's OK.  After 5 mins, turn the fire down to low/simmer (or "3" if you have an electric glass stop stove) and cook for 1 hr.  You don't need to wrap the potatoes in foil or anything.  

 

Me and the little Korean lady who was doing the in-store demo of the pot, had a few "Lost in Translation" moments, but after a lot of hand gesturing and such, I decided I had gotten the gist, and went home and winged it.  I've been using the pot like that ever since, and it seems to git 'er done.  

1 year, 6 months ago on I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease

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Yes.  Hot, room temperature or cold, it's all good.  (How many cooked foods can you say that about?)  One time I couldn't find them and bought the Japanese sweet potatoes from another market, but they were nowhere near as tasty as the Korean variety (sorry, my Japanese friends.) 

 

Haven't tried them as chips, but that's a good idea.  If you have a food processor with a slicer blade, you could probably get them razor thin, so they'd be nice and light and crispy.  That sounds like some good eatin' there.  I've been swapping them out in every recipe I can find that would normally call for regular or other potatoes.  And talk about sweet potato FRIES.  Toss them with some olive oil, kosher salt, fresh rosemary herbs, and then throw them in the oven at 450 for about 30 mins or so. 

1 year, 6 months ago on I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease

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 @Karla  @hotvinyasaflow Glad you like it!  You should notice a higher energy level, and a satisfied feeling that keeps you from having the munchies, for hours.  Try it next time with some frozen tropical fruit, like pineapple and mango.  Trader Joe's sells frozen fruit at a great price, but you can get even better bulk deals at Wegman's and Costco.  I usually buy bulk of all the different fruit flavors I like, then dump and mix them together in a huge clear plastic freezer container so that I can just scoop out a serving when I need it.  Huge time and money saver.

1 year, 7 months ago on Detox that holiday meal! The Everything Smoothie to the rescue

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Great, let me know what you think!  If time in the AM is an issue, it keeps well if made the night before. I'd just make sure to store it in a pre-chilled thermos, to keep it as fresh as possible in transit.  

1 year, 7 months ago on Detox that holiday meal! The Everything Smoothie to the rescue

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 @Karla BTW, that was me, hotyogachick, responding.  For some reason Livefyre had an old username ("hotvinyasaflow") tied to my sign-on credentials.

1 year, 7 months ago on Detox that holiday meal! The Everything Smoothie to the rescue

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 @Seenyc Yes, congrats! I think you're on point with the "outfit goal" rather than being overly focused with numbers on the scale.  Good luck!

1 year, 7 months ago on The Ultimate Exercise Motivation (Arthur Did It. What's Your Excuse?)

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 @Toni_M Same here, Toni_M.  I always thought I wasn't cut out for running because I'd get winded so easily, but honestly I think it's because I didn't do it often enough to build up endurance.  Starting off with a half-walk-half-run strategy helped me gradually build up.  Like you, my goal is to run at least twice a week (3miles), in between my other workouts.  And kudos to you for keeping that exercise flame "lit" throughout 2012!!!  Hingeing everything on a magical January 1 jump-off date, is dangerous and often self-defeating (says she of many failed New Year's Resolutions in years past :-)

1 year, 7 months ago on The Ultimate Exercise Motivation (Arthur Did It. What's Your Excuse?)

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Here's the RGIII bio piece I referenced, that ran in the Washington Post, and even there you see the foolish premises and assumptions (by those who insist on speaking for everybody) persist:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/robert-griffin-iii-post-racial-superstar-or-the-one-answer-depends-on-who-you-are/2012/10/26/3fc84306-1eac-11e2-8817-41b9a7aaabc7_story.html

1 year, 7 months ago on "Authentic Blackness" and More GAT-DL Co-opting....

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Toni, you read my mind.  I live in the DC area (RGIII-ville) and I almost ran my car off the road this morning when I heard this flaming pile of ca-ca aired on a syndicated radio show.  The issue seems to be pure jealousy and resentment, and not at his obvious athletic gift...but at the way this young man comports himself (with pure class and intelligence), and navigates effortlessly through all realms of public and private life, as an individual operating on his own positive, quality terms.  I read his bio, and this is the type of guy who would have been branded as a "nerd" or "weird" while coming up by these very same fools, since he made friends across color lines and was into all kinds of cool, alternative stuff.  I don't even follow sports, yet I turn my TV up every time they interview him on the local sports channel, because it's such a (refreshing) pleasure to hear how this young man comes across.  More power to him, and I hope this idiotic sports announcer is publicly denounced in the most visceral way possible, by the thinking masses.

1 year, 7 months ago on "Authentic Blackness" and More GAT-DL Co-opting....

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 @thecrazyartist  @BlackWomenDeserveBetter  @MySmile So true.  For example, until stumbling onto this YouTube video, I had never before seen, actually illustrated, *natural*, african-american hair being blown dry into a finished style, with just a round brush and blow dryer.  (i.e., no flat irons, curling irons, etc.):

http://youtu.be/RD2ysAlfuKs

Just yet another styling option, not just for women with natural hair who may want to switch it up every now and then and go for a straight, smooth style, but those with relaxers, as well.  And while I still prefer a roller set as my default styling option, I recognize that I can't take my Pibbs hair dryer and roller kit with me everywhere I go, such as on vacation.  So newly armed with the info in this video, I promptly put this tip in my back pocket "toolkit", which meant going out and investing in a high-quality blowdryer and round brush so I can practice this technique at home until I master it.  Again, it's all about educating yourself on what styling options are available to you, whether your hair is natural or not.  Knowledge is power. 

 

1 year, 7 months ago on On Fitness: It's Your Hair, Or Your Life

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@thecrazyartist@BlackWomenDeserveBetter

Exactly, thecrazyartist.   It IS a choice.  A hot yoga enthusiast (4-5x week), I sweat my relaxed hair out on a near-daily basis. And…guess what?  No one died. I swept the whole damp mass up into a loose ponytail.  Or slicked it back into a bun.   Or, washed and set it when I got home later.  (If your hair is short, all the better – a little product, cute headband, fluff or scrunch it out, and be on your way.)  The point is, life, and my daily schedule, goes on as usual. 

 

The following does not apply to this crowd, since it sounds like everyone in this space has very likely already made that "yes" decision, whether your hair is natural or not.  But for those other women with relaxed hair currently suffering from an overblown fear of water/moisture touching their hair, I would suggest that they consider doing these 3 things TODAY to get over it:

 

1.  Stop ceding control of your weekly/biweekly hair regimen to a salon.  Except for cuts,  chemical treatments or color, learn to DIY at home.  Invest in the right tools, which pay for themselves over time.  The point is, stop setting yourself up to mourn and obsess over the perceived “loss” associated with a $40 or $50 salon bill, every time your hair “goes back.”  Change your habits so that the only thing you have to lose, is your own time.  

 

2.  Cure yourself of the (irrational) fear of the unknown.   For one week straight, every day, deliberately put your hair in the direct path of water or humidity:  take Bikram or hot yoga classes, a swimming class at the local Y, take a jog or walk on a rainy day, sit in a sauna or steam bath, make love in the shower…whatever.  Afterwards, force yourself to experiment with reviving and restyling it.  By the end of the week, not only will you feel great physically, but you cannot imagine how freeing, mentally, the whole exercise will be.  The unthinkable happened.  Your hair got wet (gasp!), and…what?  Life went on.  You were still cute.  Your boyfriend or husband still lusted after you.  No one at your job gave a damn, or likely even noticed, whether your hair was styled up, down, out or sideways.  You were, in fact, still YOU.  Move on.

 

3.  Change your mindset, and learn how to get at and address the root cause of your own irrational behaviors and thoughts.  Do this by using the “5 Why’s” method, every time you catch yourself doing something not in your best interest.  This was me, several years ago.  Sound familiar?

 

I can’t work out today. 

Why? 

Because I can’t sweat my hair out. 

Why? 

Because I won’t be able to get to the salon to get it redone. 

Why do I have to go to the salon to get it redone? 

Because I dread doing it myself at home. 

Why? 

Because it takes so long, I don’t know what I’m doing, and the end result sucks. 

Why?

Because I don’t do it often enough to get better at it, and reduce the cycle time. 

Why? 

Because I don’t have the right tools at home. 

Why?  

Because I don’t know what to buy in order to get salon-quality results at home. 

Why? 

Because I haven’t done the research.  And…deep down, I doubt myself and suspect that only trained hair stylists possess the keys to the Magic Kingdom of Great Hair.

 

Why???

 

 Uhhhh…I don’t know.  No earthly good reason.  Guess I better start researching, buy the right tools, and commit to a 2x p/wk practice schedule of washing and setting/styling my own hair. 

 

Within 2 months of throwing myself into this home process I was a self-taught pro, getting better results than the salon, and in less time. 

 

Lesson?  No one knows my hair better than me.  And no one knows your hair better than you.  Get comfortable handling it, in all its various and wonderful forms (wet, dry, curly, straight, bushy. kinky, smooth.)    And then, put it out of your mind as you redirect psychic and physical energy to that which is truly important:  living your best, health-affirming life possible. 

@MySmile

1 year, 7 months ago on On Fitness: It's Your Hair, Or Your Life

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As a side note, Christelyn, I saw your hair at the DC Election Decompression event, and it was positively lovely.  But I identify totally with your struggle.  I am so glad I tried going natural several years ago (was natural for 3 years during a period of my life when I was laid off, and returned to school as an adult to pursue a degree), as otherwise I would never have been able to make the move back to a relaxer, with closure and peace of mind.  I, too, had high hopes for my hair in "going natural" but the exact opposite happened, despite my diligence and extreme care:  severe breakage of, and damage to, my long hair, and a tedious, time-consuming and laborious hair routine that I just could not keep up any longer.  I applaud women who go natural with positive results.  But it's not for everyone.  Despite my hair being on the thin side,  it has actually re-blossomed under a careful, modified hair care regime that includes Phyto I index relaxer, and the WEN line of products (non-sulphate, no harsh detergents as with regular shampoo.)  Because of WEN, I find that I now only need to relax my shoulder-length hair 3 times a year - and maybe less as time goes on - minimizing the damage that can be inherent in that process.  I haven't blown dry, flat ironed or pressed my hair in decades.  I was always a wash-and-set girl, and finally invested in a Pibbs Kwik-Dri dryer to do my hair myself at home, in a  fraction of the time it would take at the salon.  Regular hot-oil and deep conditioning treatments are a must, and my hair - at 46 -  has never looked better, or grown faster.  And I do hot power yoga 5 days a week, as well as run and cross-train, so I put my hair through the ringer in terms of exercise and "sweating it out."     (I'm convinced the difference is the WEN products, i.e. eliminating shampoo from my hair care regimen, and more diligence with deep conditioning).  It also helps that at 46, I've reached a stage in my life where my identity and self-confidence is not all wrapped up in the state of my hair. It's all about ease of routine, flexibility and a hairstyle that works with my active lifestyle. 

 

The moral of this long-winded saga? It doesn't have to be a black-and-white proposition...natural hair does not automatically = healthy hair, and relaxed hair - if cared for properly, with the highest quality and nurturing products possible - does not have to result in unhealthy, destroyed hair.  Everyone should feel free to safely experiment with all the points in between, finding that point on the spectrum that works for them.  If natural hair works for you, great.  Rock it.  If not...also great.  Rock that.  It's good for everyone to try going natural just to reconnect with their true hair texture, but no one should feel like a "failure" in opting for a return back to a texturizer or relaxer, based on lifestyle or personal preference.  Nor should they be judged by others.  

 

Christelyn, in the end, I'm confident you'll land exactly where you need to, in terms of your hair.  You will be fabulous, either way.   

1 year, 8 months ago on Truth Time: Anyone Disappointed In Their Natural Hair Journey? Five Hard Lessons I've Learned.

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