Summertime Slim Down — On My Way to a Healthier Me

Green Smoothie
with Kale, Apple, Cucumber and Banana

This year I’ve been learning lots about the importance of eating a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables.  I even found out a thing or two about juicing and how beneficial it can be.  Still, it took my upcoming summer vacation to finally get me motivated to lose some weight.  I’ve been telling myself how great it would feel if I could just lose the 7-10 lbs. that have been keeping me from looking my best.  There are all sorts of reasons why I fell off of the exercise wagon so I’ll save the long story.  Thankfully my diet only needs a few tweeks here and there because my family and I eat pretty healthy.

After watching the movie, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” earlier this year, I decided to start juicing more.  At first, there was a bit of a learning curve but I’m used to it now and can whip up a glass of juice for breakfast with no extra fuss.  I’m happy to say that it helped with my psoriasis which was crazy out of control for most of the winter.  One of my favorites is a green smoothie with Kale, Cucumber, Apple and Banana.

Now that my skin is looking better, I’ve been trying to exercise more in hopes of losing a little extra cushion around the middle and thighs.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful that I’ve been around the same size for years.  It would be nice though to not have to rely so much on help from shaperwear when it’s time to dress up.  Plus, I want to have more energy to help me get through these long summer days with the kids.

As for my hair, I’m hoping that the cardio and strength workouts will lead to a faster metabolism.  This in turn can lead to faster hair growth (maybe).  So for now the Wash n’ Go hairstyle is super easy for me.  Since I use a heavy gel product like Eco Styler, I can just wet my hair in the shower to reactivate my style.  Co-washing is also pretty easy because it removes most of the product without stripping my hair or causing my curls to go into shock.  Sometimes I even use a light oil on my hair either in the shower or right after to seal in the moisture and combat dryness.  The wash n’ go style is so much easier now and great for the summer.

My Sort-a Kind-a Curly Girl Method

Earlier this summer I mentioned in one of my YouTube videos that I was not a fan of the Curly Girl method (CG) because it seemed to do a number on my scalp.  I have issues with dry scalp off and on throughout the year.  This year it seemed to really flare up when I started this method because of the constant conditioner only washing.  Well, I’m still dealing with it now but have gone back to wearing my hair curly everyday.

Curls Up-close

I’m not following the CG method exactly but I just don’t see the point in wearing stretched styles when I know my scalp needs to be cleansed more often.  However, I did learn a few things from Lorraine Massey’s book, Curly Girl, the Handbook

There is one step that I learned from the book which helps immensely with my new daily washing/co-washing routine.  It’s called a, “pre-cleanse”.  With this step you just apply conditioner or sulfate free shampoo prior to getting in the shower to wash your hair (book version).  I altered this method a little because I prefer to apply loads of cheapie conditioner like Suave’s Naturals Coconut (my staple) instead of the amount suggested.  I do this in sections and it really helps me to pull out shed hairs and tangles.  It also elongates my hair which is usually shrunken up into a tight curly fro from the day before.

I’m still using sulfate shampoo and my favorite leave-in conditioner (Paul Mitchell’s The Conditioner) which has silicones in the ingredients list.  For this reason I can’t say that I’m abiding by the “rules” outlined in the book.  Sulfates and Silicones are big no-no’s with this method but I make sure to use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinses to help resolve any issues there.  Not only does the ACV help remove build-up but it also helps my hair to return back to a normal pH after using the shampoo.  This is important because this leaves my hair more manageable by closing the cuticle layer back down.  It also helps with moisture retention.  I love ACV rinses!

My hair is definitely benefitting from all of the moisture it has been getting.  I have been rockin’ wash n’ gos for six weeks straight and can’t really see myself quitting anytime soon.  I usually do my hair at night so I’m not too worried about having wet hair in the mornings when I head out.  Hopefully I will begin to see tons of growth and length retention in the upcoming months.

Tips on How to Define Type 4 Curls

My hair wet with product

Sometimes I feel like I should be crowned the Wash n’ Go queen by now after all of the products and techniques I’ve experimented with to achieve the curly look.  Washing my hair and just heading out the door is never the case.  I have curls but they are “type 4” curls.  Yes, I’m talking about the hair typing system.  It’s not my favorite way to categorize my hair but hopefully it will give others a way to gage whether my techinques will work for them.

My curls are tight corkscrew coils, lazy “s” shapes and everything in between.  I even have a section that laughs at the idea of curl definition.  Oh and let’s not forget about the shrinkage.  I would say mine can be up to 75% but it depends on the day.

In order to get my curls to pop, there are certain things that I must do in order to get the definition I want.  Just so you know, I’m usually looking for hair that will last me a few days without feeling drastically dry and brittle.  I’m still looking for a softer hold solution but at least I’ve got the curl definition part down.

Here are some things that I have learned when styling my own hair

My hair freshly washed and detangled
using a denman brush.
Dry with no product

1.  Start with clean hair

For some this may mean co-washing; for others, shampoo.  I’ve noticed that I really do get the best results after cleansing my hair.  Otherwise, I end up with so-so results.

2.  Detangle, detangle, detangle

There are times where I skip this step and I always pay for it.  Not only does this cut help to cut down on the time it takes to apply the products but the hair is also way easier to work with.  Whether you’re shingling, raking or combing product through remember to start with detangled hair.

3.  Make sure hair is soaking wet

When my hair begins to dry, all of those pretty little curls go poof!  Any curl defining product out there is really just a way to lock your curls into place.  My hair is at it’s curliest when it’s dripping wet so I start with that.  When sections begin to dry, I make sure to keep a spray bottle handy so I can wake those curls back up.

4.  Work in small sections

We’ve all seen the videos where someone takes a quarter size amount of product and applies it to all of their waist length hair and voila; curl definition.  Not for our hair texture!  It’s best to keep the sections as small as possible so that each and every little curl can get enough product from root to tip.  Sometimes, big hair is desirable but if you want every curl accounted for, using smaller sections is the way to go.

I get lots of curl definition using product
on wet hair

5.  Smooth those ends

After I have completely raked the product through a section, I always go over my ends, using my fingers, to smooth them out.  This will ensure that the curl lays flatter and discourages those stubborn single strand knots.

6.  Once the products are all in, LEAVE IT ALONE!

This is a biggie.  I’ve done it myself more times than I can count.  Still, you’ve got to leave your wet hair be until you’ve got that, dried “cast” that tells you it’s okay to touch your curls.  Even if you choose to diffuse, remember not to handle your hair with your fingers because this will cause lots of unwanted frizz.  Simply tilt your head and let your curls drop into the diffuser so that it can do its’ thing.

 I hope these tips will help someone out there.  I sure wish I would have known all of this long ago when I first went natural.  Still, I’m pretty happy with my coily creations and that’s all that matters.

Singin’ in the Rain with Gotye at Red Rocks Ampitheatre

Red Rocks Ampitheatre in
Morrison, Colorado

Here in Colorado it is pretty much common knowledge that Red Rocks Ampitheatre is one of the best places to take in a live show.   This week the hubby and I made another trek up the winding ramp that leads to the open air venue surrounded by massive red rocks to see the musician, Gotye.  The weather was not the best but fun was had by all once the show started.

There were two opening acts before the much awaited headliner.  After warming the crowd up with a couple of tunes,  Gotye (a.k.a Wally) remarked, as most singers do, at how the altitude made singing a challenge.  Still,  he managed to hit all the notes in perfect pitch.  The show was full of beat driven tracks such as, “Easy Way Out,” and, “Thanks for Your Time.”

Prior to the show this week of course I kept thinking, “what am I gonna do with my hair?”  With the venue in mind it was a no brainer.  A Wash n’ Go was pretty much my only option because there was the chance it might rain.  I decided this before realizing that I was completely out of my staple styler, Eco Gel.  That’s when I remembered that I still had some Kinky Curly Curling Custard (KCCC) I bought a long time ago.  I couldn’t remember all of the do’s and dont’s for using this product so I went online to check which leave-ins it paired well with.  I found a video on YouTube explaining how the Tresemme Naturals conditioner I love so much works as a leave-in under the KCCC.

On the way to the concert rockin’ my curly fro-
So excited!

Before applying the products, I co-washed my hair with Suave Naturals in Coconut flavor.  Then, with my hair still dripping wet, I applied the Tresemme conditioner in sections. After that, I used very little of the gel on each of the sections and wet the hair before raking it through.  I noticed some crazy curl definition right away which usually means tons of shrinkage.  This was what I was going for though and was happy with the final result.  The next day (the morning of the concert) I re-wet my hair to reactive the curls.  I ended up with a coily afro that was a lot of fun to wear.

At the concert there was plenty of wind and rain throughout but I didn’t have a care in the world because my curly fro held up just fine.  Which left me with plenty of headspace for remembering all the words to, “Heart’s a Mess” and “Save Me,” my two favorite Gotye songs.

Waiting for the show to begin
Red Rocks all around

Enjoying Your TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro)

A wash n’ go style with Eco Styler Gel
 at 3 months Natural

Sometimes I find people in hair forums who are trying to figure out what to do with their TWA a.k.a. “Teeny Weeny Afro”.  Everytime I see this I think to myself, don’t they realize how good they’ve got it?  When I was new to being natural and my hair was shorter than ever, I embraced it.  It was so much fun!  Now don’t get me wrong, it took some getting used to.  However, after a nine month transition, it seemed like my hair wasn’t short for very long. 

When I think back on it, all I can remember is how easy it was.  My routine was pretty simple.  Each day I either re-wet my hair with my homemade spritz or co-washed it in the shower with a cheapie conditioner.  I didn’t really use a lot of products.  I moisturized my hair with leave-in conditioner, my aloe/glycerin/water spray or shea butter.  I tried a few different hair gels and realized that Eco Styler worked the best for making my curls pop.  Other than that, I played around with finger coils, the conditioner only method, and hair accessories.  This was also the time when I started wearing earings more often which turned out to be a great compliment to my short hair. 

Using a large, snap barrett
for something different
My only piece of advice for anyone who is wondering about caring for their short fro is to consider what season you’ll be doing the Big Chop.  Why?  Think about it, the only way to work with your newly natural hair will be when it’s wet or damp.  So, doing the BC during the winter months is probably not the way to go unless there’s no way around it.  This is precisely why I decided to cut the last of my relaxed ends off in May of 2009.  By the fall, I had enough hair to do braid outs, blow-outs, and individual braids.   Other than that, I think you should enjoy your short and sassy TWA.  It’s fun and easy to care for.  Ultimately though, for anyone who is going Natural for the long haul, it is also just the beginning.