My Sugar Detox: My Journey to Reduce our Toxic Burden

Are you here to see the continuation of my detox series? If you haven’t heard of it, check it out here.

Just a small recap, the term detox by definition is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. I did just that in my 4 week sugar fast…and I’m so glad I did!

Did you know that the American Heart Association suggests women have no more than 25 grams (or 6 teaspoons) of sugar per day. I dare you to count how many grams you consume every day for a week and tell me whether or not you’re surprised at your sugar intake. Know how much sugar the average American consumes daily? A whopping 82 grams (19.5 teaspoons)!!! The US National Institute on Drug Abuse says that it can affect you like cocaine or alcohol – addictive! Additionally, did you know that your risk of heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes exponentially increases with sugar intake? And sixteen million Americans have heart disease, the #1 killer in the U.S. 

Theoretically the only thing that changed is that I cut out sugar, but the reality is that sugar is in EVERYTHING! I didn’t cut out ketchup and salad dressing – which have sugar in them! – but I did cut out sweets like muffins, donuts, ice cream, that whole gamut, plus no sugary drinks, no sugar in my coffee, no flavored creamers, etc. I’ve tried to use only pure peanut butter and steer away from my flavored oatmeal. My sugar came mostly from fruit and honey, though like I said, I didn’t cut out things like pasta sauce or pasta that have hidden sugar (though I did try to be careful!). All that to say, it has changed my diet, but the goal wasn’t a diet; the goal was to eliminate sugar.

Week 1 has been great! Not completely a walk in the park, but great nonetheless. I’ve not only felt great, but I’ve lost some weight too! I’ve been more hungry because I can’t just eat whatever is convenient. I wasn’t quite prepared for that. And I hate being hungry! First world problems, I know. My skin doesn’t seem to be any more clear, but maybe that will come later.

I can’t tell if my energy is any higher or lower. The weather is changing which makes me just want to be inside, lounging around! So I guess that means it definitely hasn’t boosted my energy because I’m still wanting to lounge around.

Week 2 has shown minimal progress. I’ve noticed a little weight loss; my skin is more clear; my body is appreciating the change! With the weather change, I haven’t been drinking as much water as I am hot tea! I find myself wanting tea with honey and cream all the time so that I can enjoy a little “treat.”

Week 3 was nothing special. It’s gotten a little easier over time (aside from when I stood in front of literally several dozen Kristy Kreme donuts and passed them out to guests at church!). My skin definitely looks better, in my opinion. I learned how to make a sparkling lemonade with Stevia – that was pretty good! Besides that, nothing special to notate.

Week 4 was more of the same. It felt really good to finish off strong. My skin didn’t digress or progress from week 3. My clothes fit better, though my weight loss was – in my opinion – minimal. (Shout-out to Bekah who did the sugar fast with me! She lost 15 pounds in 4 weeks and was able to wear some clothes she had been waiting to fit back into!) I did notice that food tasted better, food that I’ve had before and wasn’t overly impressed by suddenly had great flavor to it.

All in all, I feel better – physically and psychologically. I love knowing that my system doesn’t have all kinds of craziness in it (and nothing that resembles cocaine in my brain!). I didn’t often feel like I was being deprived, and I never felt socially awkward (for lack of a better term) by the fact I wasn’t having what everyone else was having.

By week 4, I had the brilliant idea of making hot chocolate with stevia! I can’t say whether or not it “tastes like stevia” because I don’t mind the taste or the aftertaste. But when you need a hot, sweet drink, after LOTS of hot tea, this was a good one to me!

I enjoyed a few bites of brownie and ice cream last night as I completed the challenge, and while it was good, it was definitely anticlimactic!!! I’m okay with that. I’ll now be monitoring how much sugar I take in daily and also have an allotment for a weekly dessert, and I’m looking forward to feeling this great all the time!

Will you try it with me next time around? I don’t think you’ll regret it! And your health is definitely worth it!

Photo credit: Oregon State University, license

One ingredient natural eye make-up remover 

Have you heard of all the different ways to detox? Last week I did a kick off to detox. Check it out here

As I slowly begin to implement safe ways to detox, I found that this simple trick is not only inexpensive for a natural replacement but is also extremely simple. Are you ready for it?

Coconut oil for eye make-up remover!! Simple, right? Be sure to use organic coconut oil (preferably not from the Dollar Store – I don’t think you should trust too many things from there) so that you are all clear of those nasty toxins, and that one ingredient is all you need! Not only that, but it leaves your eyes moisturized all night long. 

At $4 a jar and probably only needing a teaspoon or less a day, trust me, this is a steal!

Here’s how I do it: I simply put some water on my mascara to try to get as much of it off with just water as I possibly can, and then I take a cotton ball (or a half of one) or a cotton round and swipe it around the edges of the coconut oil jar and wipe it over one set of eye lashes, then turn the cotton ball around to get the other side oiled, then do the other eye. And the residue that’s left stays on and can stay there all night, moisturizing my eyes and eye lashes while I sleep!

And for those who use waterproof mascara, it still works! Check out this post of a skeptical girl who decided to settle it once and for all. In case you’re wondering, I recently switched over to this natural mascara that is only $7-8, and I love it!  

And here’s the coconut oil I use. 

And I use an old Aldi coconut oil jar to keep some in my bathroom and the big container in my kitchen. 

So how about it? Ready to take the plunge and get rid of just one product and replace it with something you may already have on hand? It’s worth it!

On the Journey to Reduce our Toxic Burden


Detox: 

(noun) a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification

Wondering why it’s important to me to reduce our toxic burden? Certain facts like this one from the National Toxicology Program (of the US Department of Health and Human Services) might help explain it:

“More than 80,000 chemicals are registered for use in the US….for use in such everyday items as food, personal care products, prescription drugs… We do not know the effects of many of these chemicals on our bodies…”

Did you catch that? The people officially responsible for knowing the toxicology of each chemical say that they DON’T KNOW the effects that the chemicals have on our health!!! AND there are over 80,000 of these chemicals! Just wow… Check out some more facts here that got me thinking twice about what I put in and on my body.

Looking to get rid of toxic ingredients in your home but not sure where to start? It can be pricey to change everything over at once! I’ve personally chosen to start in small, inexpensive ways, and so my journey of reducing our toxic burden has been taken one baby step at a time. 

I’m a little indifferent to this method of detoxifying our lives. It’s good because it’s definitely given me some more time to figure out what’s bad, what’s good, what’s the best quality, what’s worth the cost, and so on. I can also focus on detoxifying where the greatest threats are.

On the other hand, it’s hard to be learning what’s wrong with all of these products that I’m using EVERY DAY and not throw it all out at once! How can I learn things like “propylene glycol is an automotive antifreeze that is also used in cosmetics and food” and not scrap it all and start over? 

I’ve learned that price matching and buying quality ingredients are equally important. It can be difficult to rid yourself and your home of toxins when you both don’t have the budget for this and also don’t know what the best quality ingredients are, but both are so important!

It’s been frustrating to me to think I have found a great product for a great price, only to find that I haven’t done all my homework and what I’m using is still subpar. I say that to say that I’m not an expert. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’m learning and – for the most part – I’m enjoying the journey and appreciating the results! 

In the posts to come, I’ll share with you some inexpensive and easy ways to reduce your toxic burden. Some will be a personal detox method (like a sugar fast!); some will be an inexpensive product to reduce your chemical intake (“use this not that”). Whatever it is, I hope it will be a help to you! What’s something you’ve been thinking about replacing with a better option? Why not start today? 

10 Things Frugal People Do (Part 2)

Frugal people do things differently. Plain and simple. And regardless of where you stand on the frugality scale, you can incorporate changes today to save you a lot of money (and even stress) in the future!

If you missed part 1, check it out here!

Cut the unnecessary. In our modern world, we are bound to fill up our lives with unnecessary expenses from time to time! Do you use your gym membership? You could easily run around the neighborhood for free or do an at-home fitness video. Do you need your cable TV if you also have Netflix? Do you read all the magazines you pay for, and do you eat all your produce before it goes bad? Think of the ways you can cut out the unnecessary; once you start thinking, you’re sure to come up with something.

Use everything you have. I recently wanted to do some crafting, but I didn’t want to spend any money on any part of the craft. I had some burlap my mom gave me and some cardboard from Aldi, so I made a cute, J-shaped door hanger. When you start thinking of using only what you have in your home, I bet you’ll surprise yourself with how creative and inventive you are. This is also how I stopped buying paper towels in exchange for other household items.

Find ways to make money. Recycle, do side work, sell unused and unwanted items online or locally, sell clothes online (I’ve used Poshmark and Mercari, and they’re both good for different reasons; here is more about that). I’ve taken my juicer to work, along with some produce, and set up shop on my lunch break, making juices for coworkers; of course I also set out a tip jar (just make sure you’re following your company’s protocol for this!). The possibilities are practically endless!

Take care of what you have. Clean your vacuum cleaner when it’s time, not waiting until the belt is broken from overload or the filter is irreplaceable. My husband’s expensive Colehaan shoes have to be resoled and polished regularly, and using a shoehorn is best because it helps absorb sweat and keep a good shape. Resoling and polishing and shoehorns all cost money, but those costs are better than a new pair of expensive shoes! Bottom line: If you need it or if it means something to you, take the time and money to take care of it. Usually the maintenance is cheaper than the replacement piece, and it’s almost always cheaper than replacing it altogether!

Don’t turn down help when it’s offered. It’s amazing to me how God has always given us wonderful friends who love to help us. We have a beautiful kitchen table, thanks to some very wonderful friends. We have a nice 6-foot Christmas tree, thanks to some other very wonderful friends. When you live in a way that is “unlavish,” often your friends or family notice without your saying a word. And they usually want you to enjoy nice things, especially if it’s in their power to help. So if they offer, let them! If they are asking if you want to take home left-overs from an event, say “yes!” (This does not mean to go around, sounding like an impoverished soul that needs some help, in hopes that someone will feel sorry enough for you to offer to have you over for dinner or something!). I can’t count the number of coupons I’ve received – coupons for free things! – because a friend knew I could use some help.

Do you consider yourself frugal? Is there a tip or two you can incorporate today? Do you have tips to add? Let me know what you think of the list! If you missed part 1, check it out here!

Photo credit: Ken Teegardin | Cropped

One trick to save you time, energy, and money

Isn’t it amazing how busy life gets? What’s more, we feel like we don’t even have time for basic things like eating right and washing our hair. You might be thinking right now that I’m gross or maybe a little messed up. Both could be true, but stay with me…
Did you know that it’s actually good for your hair to not be stripped of its natural oils, as commercial shampoos do? It’s true!! Shampoo acts as a detergent, robbing your hair of the oils that help keep it healthy, shiny, and growing. I’ve known this since I was a teen, but necessity brought me to the implementation of it. #collegelife… More on that another time. 

So if you’re trying to save money and/or save time and wash your hair less frequently, you definitely should keep dry shampoo on hand, especially if you’re in the beginning stages of “training” your hair for going longer between washes. If you’re an athlete, a busy mom, or just needing to create some more time in your day, you need dry shampoo! My hair is on the long side; I just can’t imagine washing and drying and styling my hair multiple times a week! 

You should also know that store bought dry shampoo isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Besides the price adding up, your hair might just look the same afterward, or it looks or feels like all you did was put hairspray on. 
Additionally, did you know that there are harmful chemicals lurking in dry shampoo that will harm you and your hair in the long run? If you read my recent post on what I learned at a BeautyCounter party, you probably could have guessed that. One expert said of dry shampoo, “Liquefied petroleum gas on the other hand does not provide any beauty benefits and merely helps fire the earthy concoction from the cannister.” Read more here.  
What’s more, a lot of dry shampoos have aluminum in them, which has recently been confirmed as a link to Alzheimer’s and/or talc or talcum powder which was recently recalled as it has been proven to cause ovarian cancer.
(This poor woman just won $417 million from a Johnson & Johnson talcum powder case. After taking one look at her, I had to think that $417 million might not mean anything to her at this point. Just tragic.)

So alas, I challenge you to save your money – and quite literally your life – and stick to some safe alternatives for dry shampoo. 

Option for purchase: 

I’ve been using this awesome body/baby powder from IvyTime Naturals, and I love it! However, I don’t know that I’m actually supposed to be using this as a dry shampoo (sh!). It has arrowroot powder, bentonite clay, organic calendula and lavender flowers, and lavender essential oil. 

Option for DIY:

It can be just as cost effective to buy your own materials and have them at the ready. For the same price as buying a bottle of natural product(s), you can buy the materials and make it multiple times (or use for other recipes). And so I began experimenting. 

I don’t think there’s a perfect blend that suits every hair type. Mine works for me because I’m on the blonde side. When my hair was a little darker, I tried adding in cocoa powder, but my husband didn’t care for the scent of “bakery” on me. Do what suits you!

Basic materials for DIY natural dry shampoo:

  • Arrowroot powder – similar to cornstarch but doesn’t contain GMOs
  • Baking soda 
  • Cocoa powder – for darker shades 
  • Essential oils – for scent if desired 
  • Shaker or cosmetic powder container
  • Cosmetic powder brush 

For blondes I suggest mixing 1 part arrowroot and 1 part baking soda. If you’re sensitive to baking soda, just use more arrowroot and less soda. 

For darker shades, I would do the same as above plus a half part cocoa powder and continue adding more as the color begins to suit you. 

Pro tips:

Application: a cosmetic powder container and makeup brush. No white patches!

Placement: starting from your part, go under your top layer a couple inches and work your way up  

Timing: before bed to let the oil get soaked up while you sleep 

That’s it! It’s so simple and quick! Enjoy all your extra time, extra energy, and extra saved money!!! 

10 Things Frugal People Do (Part 1)

We can all agree that managing our finances is not always easy. Sometimes we need a little reminder of what direction we are supposed to be heading. Sometimes we need a challenge or an idea of how we can be saving more money for a better financial future.

I like to think I grew up learning frugality. I am frugal, regardless of how I arrived here. Not I have arrived and know it all; I certainly do not know it all! But for lack of a better term, I’ve arrived at being cheap. Plain and simple. Regardless of being frugal or needing to learn it, I hope some of these tips will help you toward your next financial goal.

Don’t buy anything at the store that you can make cheaper at home. Now the list of things you can make at home for cheap is seemingly limitless, so you have to know your personal limits. I work full time and have chosen a rather busy lifestyle, so there are some things I need to buckle down and learn…when I have time. However, with our loose “no spending rule,” I’ve learned how to make homemade spray starch for clothes (no chemicals and about 5% of the cost for store bought? YES!) for starters and am excited to learn more! What can you make instead of buying?

Borrow instead of buying when possible. We don’t buy movies, games, or tools. We borrow. We have enough friends that these conveniences are readily available in a wide variety. Not only do tools and toys cost money, there’s maintenance too!

Don’t eat out. This is similar to #1, but it’s so important that it has to be reiterated and in a category all its own. Eating out is such a money sucker! It’s literally a moment of pleasure for double or triple the cost if you had bought the ingredients and made it yourself. Don’t let convenience win out. Plan your meals ahead of time, so you don’t have to wonder about dinner when you’re already famished. For the occasional times your spouse is treating you, even if it’s an anniversary, check Retail Me Not for good deals and choose where to go based on coupons you find.

Look for the best price possible. Using Krazy Koupon Lady, the Sunday morning newspaper, and countless other tools, you can easily find the best deals. Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs has this awesome idea of keeping a “price book,” suggesting you take a journal shopping and make a list of the main grocery stores you shop, the main foods you buy, and their prices per units, then refer to that when you’re wondering where to buy what. Such a novel idea.

Never pay full price for retail items. Not paying full price would apply more to clothes, shoes, home goods, etc. After all, sometimes you have to pay full price for gasoline, but you can still be getting the best deal. I always shop the clearance racks and cannot remember the last time I paid full price for our clothes. We just don’t go there. And even with not paying full price, I still look for coupons. There are too many clearance items, great sales, and coupons out there to pay full price for anything.

Part 2 of 10 Things Frugal People Do will be continued next week, but if you can’t wait, you can check it out here :). Until then, let me know what you can implement this week!

Photo credit: Ken Teegardin | Cropped

What I Learned from a Beautycounter Party

Have you heard of Beautycounter? Wondered what all the hype is about? I did too, and then my friend started selling it. After hosting a party, I started seeing some things in a new light. Firstly, this video was shocking!

In case you don’t already know, I’ve been skeptical of the “natural trend.” If the FDA or whatever other applicable government entity has to approve a label in order for it to go on a shelf, what should I be worried about? If plenty of others are using these same products without any immediate ill effects, what’s the problem? And besides, doesn’t basically everything cause cancer these days?

While some of these questions don’t have good, solid answers, I think I have some questions and answers below that might help clear some things up – at least they did for me. Not to be a fear monger of any kind, but to hopefully raise awareness about what you’re putting on and in your body, I’ve done just a smidgen of research to get us thinking.

*Disclaimer 1 – I tried to get links to verify each of these “facts,” but some of the legal jargon is unclear to an untrained eye like mine.

*Disclaimer 2 – this is in no way a comprehensive article, nor should you use any of this information to discern any poison or chemical exposure or any medical condition. This is solely informational.

Fact or Fiction: there has not been a regulation passed on cosmetics since 1938.  FACT! (As quoted by Beautycounter)

Fact or Fiction: there have been 80,000 chemicals introduced to the US and an estimated 2,000 more each year.  FACT!

Fact or Fiction: The US Department of Health and Human Services knows the effects of these chemicals on our health. FICTION

Fact or Fiction: Chemicals cannot be absorbed through the skin. Absolutely FICTION!

(Not only can you receive medication through a patch, you can even die from receiving medication through a patch, according to WebMD!)

Fact or Fiction: there are harmful (seriously – harmful!) ingredients lurking in common store bought cosmetics and skin care products. FACT!

Fact or Fiction: Other countries are not as strict as we are about what chemicals we allow. Totally FICTION!

The European Union has banned approximately 1,400 chemicals while the US has only banned a couple dozen of those same chemicals.

Here’s a list of the EU’s regulations in detail…And I recognize the ingredient names from my own products!

Here’s another tidbit of information for you – a Press Release from the Cancer Prevention Coalition dated June 17, 2002, “Cancer and health risk experts just concluded reviews that indicate mainstream cosmetics, and personal hygiene products pose the HIGHEST cancer risk exposure to the general public, even higher than smoking.”

Still not convinced? Check out this article from Medline Plus.  “Ethylene glycol may be swallowed accidentally, or it may be taken deliberately in a suicide attempt or as a substitute for drinking alcohol (ethanol). Ethylene glycol is found in many household products, including:

  • Antifreeze
  • De-icing products
  • Detergents
  • Vehicle brake fluids
  • Industrial solvents
  • Paints
  • Cosmetics

Note: This list may not be all-inclusive”

So let’s recap that last paragraph: the same ingredient that can be swallowed in a suicide attempt, the same ingredient that requires Poison Control if swallowed is the same ingredient that’s also in antifreeze, vehicle brake fluids AND cosmetics and detergents. Wow.

I know, I didn’t stick to my typical topic of frugality, but honestly, taking care of yourself and your health will save you SO MUCH – financially, emotionally, relationally… If you don’t have your health, it can be a long road ahead.

Beautycounter is working in D.C. to get stricter regulations for American cosmetics. You may not be able to read and/or recognize every ingredient on your beauty care labels, so how do you know if what you’re using is safe? How do you know if Beautycounter is safe? You can trust that Beautycounter doesn’t use harmful ingredients. Here’s their “Never List” – a list of 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that they refuse to put in their products.

If you’re in the market for some AWESOME products that are safe for you and your entire family – including baby –  get in touch with my friend, Jackie. She will hook you up!  (I personally love their charcoal bar and their lip balm!)

In the upcoming weeks, I hope to share some more about living more naturally while being on a budget. Have you tried to do both? What’s your experience been? Until next time!