Minimizing My Life

Since my last year of graduate school (2012/2013), I have come to find that owning less saves me a lot of money. It just makes sense that if you do not buy a lot and therefore own a lot of things you have spent less. There is also a lot of push to purchase things and do things that are luxuries. They are not necessary for your life. You can live without them and still be happy, especially in a small city apartment.

One of my goals this year is to simplify the products and material items I own. Not just to save money, but to refocus on what is important in life. I had gotten carried away at one point buying stuff to mask or “resolve” depression. It did not help. The item would only temporarily distract me from my pain. This realization helped me turn toward fitness.

 

My jumping on this sort of minimalist notion really grew in my head from an experience at the Henry Ford Museum. They have an exhibit that takes you through the history of the automobile and there is a section discussing the change in American society that brought about luxury features to your vehicle, I just had a “whoa” moment. I stood there surprised that one placard in a museum exhibit spurred an epiphany of how I was wasting money.

I am not looking to get rid of everything and be one of those Zero Waste movement folks, but they can be inspiring toward reducing your life, consumption and rubbish. To aid me in reaching this goal of mine, I have found some great inspirational minimalists I have started following and some helpful articles to guide myself to reduce the clutter:

5351835512165276400Do you have any resources you recommend on this subject? I am in the process of looking for a good book. I will be checking out a few this weekend from my public library. Please do share in the comments below any tips you have or your story of realizing you should minimize.

 

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Natural Product Review – Shea Moisture Hair Care

In 2015, I had the goal to shampoo my hair less often, but struggled. I was finding articles and blog posts everywhere regarding how the many products dry out our hair and are toxic to us because of the parabens and sulfates they contained. However, my grappling came from the continued use of commercial hair products. They are pretty affordable and come in huge containers, but it is like they make my hair produce oil quickly.

Now, I know some folks are going to read this and ask, “Why did you not try using dry shampoo?!” I work out a lot and have dark hair, I have yet to have success with dry shampoo no matter what brand I use and how much I rub my scalp or crazily shake my head like gals in YouTube videos. My hair would be still be greasy and on top of that chalky from the dry shampoo. Not to mention I have textured hair and like it to remain that way so wetting it is helpful.

I also felt as though I was putting way too much effort into getting my hair to look nice. I want to move away from all the extra products, tools and accessories. Thankfully, I have not used my hair dryer in 2 years and why I still have my straightener and curling irons are perplexing to me, it has been so long since those have touched my hair. My hair is better for it. The texture is softer. #TimeToMinimize

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With my goals to use less shampoo and switch to natural products, 3 months ago I started using Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Shampoo, Creme Rinse and Texture Spray. First I want to say, do not expect natural products to have the same consistence as the commercial products. Commercial products add a lot of ingredients to make it seem like they are doing more than they really are. Do not expect natural shampoo to lather to the same intensity and natural conditioner to feel like a glossy coat over your hair. Now for my Pros and Cons:

Cons:

  • The scent of the products does not stick around after my hair has dried. It is not that my hair starts to stink, but that you can not pick up the smell of the product anymore. So my hair smells like nothing, which is fine. Though it is nice when the scent of the product lingers.
  • The texture spray does not assist in holding my waves. With how soft my hair has become, it does not take much for my waves to be pulled out. For instance, with it being winter, I have to put on jackets and coats and when I pull my hair out from my coat I notice that it appears straighter. In Winter, my hair feels even softer from the dry, cold air so this may just not be a winter product. I may just need to try the mousse from the same line to get the hold I am looking for this time of year.

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Pros:

  • The shampoo and conditioner rinse out quickly. It takes less than a minute to rinse the product out.
  • My waves consistently develop without patchy straight pieces. Even with using commercial products meant for wavy/curly hair I struggled with the texture not being uniform around my head. I figured it was just my hair’s natural texture, but clearly it was the product.
  • My hair has not been this shiny ever. I quickly noticed after about a month of use that my hair had a healthy, beautiful shiny look. 🙂
  • My hair does not feel weighed down. At times my hair is curly instead of just wavy. I feel like the texture of my hair has really flourished with these products.
  • Pretty affordable. I needed to use more of the commercial products to clean and condition my hair, while the Shea Moisture ones require less of each use and less often. The amount of oil my scalp produces has decreased significantly. To clarify, I shower every other day and use a small amount of shampoo (quarter size amount) only on my scalp area every 4 days. The conditioner is what I use every time I shower (about a tablespoon amount) and it is only applied on the mid to ends of my hair. Also, I do scrub my scalp well with my fingers under the water every shower.
  • My scalp has less oil production! Recently, I was able to go 6 days without shampooing and my partner said he could not tell. He thought even on day 6 that my hair seemed clean. 🙂

I will likely ditch the texture spray until Summer and try out the mousse, but the Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner have me total won over. Do you have use a natural health/beauty care products you recommend? Please share in the comments below!

No Added Sugar Treats

Given my digestion issues with processed sugar and still wanting to be able to have something sweet, I have found some go to items without added sugar. So I thought I would share them with you this week. It was not easy getting use to going to these options, but I am glad to have options!

  • Fruit! A food that is naturally sweet. I usually enjoy a piece of fruit everyday in its whole, ripe or unsweetened, dried state. Lately, I have be eating golden delicious apples, navel oranges, blood oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, coconut, prunes, dates and raisins. You can also do amazingly delicious things with fruit, like apple nachos or almond butter stuffed dates!

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  • Herbal tea. Celestial Seasonings offers many AMAZINGLY sweet and delicious teas without a single sweetener! During the holidays, I stock up on Gingerbread Spice, Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride and Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland. The rest of the year you can enjoy flavors like Caramel Apple Dream, Sangria Zinger, Coconut Thai Chai and many more! I have been drinking their tea my whole life and still find new flavors to try all the time. If you are ever in Boulder, CO I recommend taking a tour at their factory!
  • Cacao shell tea with dried fruit. During a trip to Guatemala, my partner and I took a bean to bar class at the ChocoMuseo, where we were introduced to an amazing herbal tea made from cacao shells and cardamon. While they did sweeten most of the things they gave to us with processed sugar, I have chosen add hardened dried fruit in the hot tea to provide sweetness. It makes for a lovely, sweet treat at the end of my day.
  • Homemade chocolates. All chocolate sold at the store has added sugar, with the exception of the rare unsweetened bars and baking chocolate. However, I feel chocolate is necessary for life and therefore can not live without it. Thanks again to the bean to bar class, I understand very well how chocolate is made and have been able to make simple chocolates at home using raw cacao powder, coconut oil and dried fruit. Yes, I do use a lot of cacao powder and coconut oil. This is why I buy it in bulk. If cacao butter was cheaper I would buy that for a more authentic chocolate experience, but coconut oil works quite well as a replacement and is very affordable at Costco in an unrefined, organic 84 oz jar for under $20. I usually use homemade date paste to sweeten my chocolates. Then use spices and extracts to flavor, but when you make your own chocolates you can really do whatever flavoring your heart desires! I actually do enjoy unsweetened chocolate as well, the more bitter the better.
  • Homemade ice cream and sorbets. I am allergic to bananas so I am not talking about banana ice cream here folks! I make ice cream with coconut cream and prunes/dates/raisins blended with a little water into a paste. Then I add vanilla extract or peppermint oil or cacao powder to flavor the ice cream. Its lovely! So easy to make and cheaper than the pint at the grocery store. I also have made ice cream from sweet potatoes and cashews, but without coconut cream I find the texture does not quite replicate the ice cream I grew up consuming. Sorbets are so simple! Just freeze some sweet fruit and blend until smooth in your food processor. Fruit is pretty sweet to me so no need for date paste or anything else to add sweetness in my sorbet.

Simple Meals to Stay Healthy the Easy Way

I have found the best way to clean up my diet is to keep meals simple. You do not need to make crazy elaborate meals to make a change and often when you do, you think, “I just cannot keep this up between cost of all the different little ingredients and the time it takes to prepare and cook.”

In the US culture today, both partners usually have to work to maintain a quality life and there are so many activities to keep up with. Even my friends who are stay at home parents, have shared with me the stress of all the tasks that need to be done on top of preparing meals throughout the day. It seems so easy to fall into the habit of grabbing the pre-prepared, processed foods.

However, a simple baked potato topped with breakfast sausage and steamed kale or mixed vegetables can be an affordable, well balanced and delicious meal! Plus, you can prepare many of them at a single time for the whole week. Reheat any day of the week for a bit in the microwave or toasted oven for a quick meal. #MealPrep If you like additional toppings it does not take much effort or time to add some mustard and sauerkraut; salsa and cheese; greek yogurt and ranch seasoning, etc..

On top of the time and financial savings, simple meals could be easier for you to digest. I learned that I do not digest multiple types of proteins well, specifically the combination of beans and animal proteins. My doctor explained that it could be resulting in me not absorbing all the protein I consumed! In addition, I know it makes me extremely bloated and gassy. When I eat beans without meat and cheese, I have zero problems.

So if you are finding it a struggle to keep up with your healthy eating goals, try simplifying your meals. Do you have any go to 5 ingredient of less meals? Share in the comments below! Here are 5 simple meals I like to prepare:

  1. Stir fry: 1 lb green beans + 1/2 brick of tempeh chopped / crumbled + 1 t sesame oil + 1 T Sriracha + splash of soy sauce
  2. Grain-free parfait: 1 c plain Greek yogurt + 1 piece of fruit + 1 oz chopped nuts + sprinkle of cinnamon
  3. Stuffed baked potato: 1 russet potato baked + 3 oz of ground turkey / turkey breakfast sausage + 1 c steamed kale + mustard + sauerkraut
  4. Oatmeal raisin cookie oats: 40g plain oats + 1 c water + 1 oz raisins + 1 oz nuts of choice + 1/2 t cinnamon
  5. Omelet: 2 eggs + 1 c steamed vegetables + 1 oz cheese + unsweetened ketchup

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