2 years with a Copper-IUD, My Experience

Disclosure, I have some TMI (Too Much Information) level stuff in this blog post. Nonetheless, I feel it is very important to share this information for women’s health reasons.

Before the IUD

Two years ago, I decided to change my method of birth control. I have been on 3 different brands of birth control pills since I was about 18.5 years old. Back then, I was a dysfunctional human being one day a month because my cramps made it impossible to stand unless I overdosed on analgesic and strapped a heating pan to my lower abdomen. Also, I had my first irregular cycle ever (likely due to the stress of my first semester in college) and  I was thinking about becoming sexually active.

The pill was what my doctor recommended and I figured it was the obvious choice because it seemed like the most reliable option. After I started taking the seasonal birth control pill though, I noticed a lot of negative changes. My sex drive was non-existent, I became anemic and my cycle slowly disappeared completely. I went from having a 5 day cycle to a 4 day to a 3 day pretty quickly. Slowly it dropped down to a 2 day cycle. Then as I was losing weight in 2015, I had a one day cycle and then no cycle for 2 whole years.

I was scared, especially after Googling all sort of things in regards to losing your period. On top of that, a conversation with my cousin about birth control pills made me connect the lack of sex drive, anemia and lack of cycle to the pill I was on. After doing more thorough research, I learned being on the pill for more than a decade is not well research and most of the experience others documented were similar to mine. So it was not just was type of pill I was on…

Making the Decision

Next step was to begin researching a new method of birth control, since now I am sexually active and hoped my sex drive would return as soon as I discontinued the use of the pill. I wanted something non-hormonal, which did not leave me many options that were easy to obtain and something that worked for my partner and I. I decided upon the Paragard copper intrauterine device (IUD) for the following reasons:

  • affordability (It did not cost me anything, but a doctor’s copay.)
  • non-hormonal
  • easy of use (in that once your doctor implants it you are good to go)
  • few and manageable side-effects
  • length of effectiveness (it protects you for 12 years).

Also, I had a friend who loved hers and it is the only copper IUD available in the US. However, with ALL forms of birth control there are risks. The risks associated with an IUD are serious and should not be taken lightly. The biggest risks in my opinion was the possibility of the IUD perforating your uterus and the rare chance of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

The first few months to year should be thought of as a trial period. Many woman get an IUD each year, but have them removed within a few months due to many reasons that I sum up to being just not the right birth control for them. It is common for women to experience discomfort with the device, birthing of the device (meaning your body expels it on its own), severe cramps for weeks, and more. That was not my experience, however.

My Experience

The insertion was not very comfortable, but neither is having my cervix scraped once a year for my pap smear. I mild cramping, in my opinion because the cramping during my teenage years was many times for painful, for less than 24 hours. I spotted a little, but it was not your normal cycle like spotting. I was discharging rubbery like tissue that was not as dark as blood and was tan in color at times.

The real test to me was how well it would work for my partner and I during sex, especially since my issue with my previous birth control was resolved with the fact that Paragard in non-hormonal. Here is where my over self-awareness came into play. Our first moment of intercourse with the IUD was very distracting. I was thinking about every sensation and suddenly wondered if I would know or more like feel if the IUD perforated my uterus. Needless to say, I did not get off. My partner said he could feel the strings (the strings that are attached to your IUD and allow your IUD to be removed eventually), but now does not feel them.

I could even feel the strings rubbing against the walls of my vagina for the first year. After half a year past I stopped over thinking everything completely. Sex is more enjoyable than it has ever been for me and my sex drive is more reminiscent to my teenage years. Additionally, it feels so good not to have to worry about taking a pill every day around the same time and about whether what I am consuming might effect my birth control.

Overall, I am happy with my choice. I do not regret it. I am going to end this post answering the 3 most common questions I had received from talking to friends about this. Please leave ANY questions you have below in the comments and I will respond as soon as possible.

Does it hurt?

Insertion was painful, but only for the brief moment they opened my cervix. I might have a highly tolerance for pain though due to having extremely painful cramps as a teenager. For the rest of the day after insertion (I had a late afternoon appointment), I experienced mild lower abdominal cramping. Since then I have not experienced any unusual pain. I am slowly getting more painful cramps with each cycle, but it is still a vast improvement over the cramps of my teenage years.

Are your periods painful and heavy?

Oh, yes they are heavy. The pain as I explained in the last answer is manageable compared to my teenage years. I have been going through 8 regular tampons plus 2 overnight pads in the first day of my cycle. Day 2 is more like 5-6 regular tampons and 1 overnight pad. Things greatly decrease from there. This is heavy for me and my previous cycle experiences. After I use up my current supply of feminine products I will be using a mental cup and period panties so reduce waste and save money.

When are you going to get it removed?

When my partner and I are ready to start trying to have children. Simple as that. Just have to make a doctor’s appointment to have it removed and can start trying immediately.

Natural Product Review – Shea Moisture Mascara

Sorry if you do not use makeup, but this is a product I really have fallen for and want to review it. I have to say, this is the most difficult beauty item to change for me. Mascara is something I have struggled with the idea of living without (I mean… I know I could, but I just do not want to). I use mascara 5-6 days a week and am strict about replacing mine every 3 months, especially after seeing friends get sties and pink eye from using questionably old eye makeup. Three months for using one tube of mascara is what my eye doctor recommends and seems to be the general consensus in the beauty community.

However, finding a natural mascara without all the junk for less than $10 is difficult. Most are over $10 and for how often I buy mascara, that is just not budget friendly. After narrowing down the natural mascara options due to price (which left less than 10 to chose from), I thought about what I really loved most about the Maybelline mascara I had been using for the past 8+ years.

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Top: with makeup, Bottom: no makeup

My natural lashes are ok, but I really like how my eyes look with more voluminous lashes. Since my hair is dark brown, I use black shades to help them stand out even more. I also appreciate a formula that never flakes because having your cheeks dusted with black specks is not cute.

After reading a lot of reviews and hemming and hawing over the 2-3 options I had to choose from, I purchased the Shea Moisture Absolute Volumizing Mascara in black. I figured Shea Moisture got it so right with my shampoo, how could they go horribly wrong with makeup. So far, no regrets! Here are my pros and cons:

Cons

  • Silicone brush/wand. I know some ladies love them, but I do not. I have sort of become use to it, but honestly I still prefer a bristle brush.
  • Ball tip. The ball tipped wands seem to hold a lot more product than you need so they really just make you a gloopy mess.
  • Not as much volume as my old mascara. I realize it is better for me and it does improve the volume of my lashes, but I do not get ladies asking me where I get such natural looking fake lashes from anymore. Sad.
  • The brush of the Ultra Curl and Define mascara from Shea Moisture is the WORST. One time, my subscription of the volumizing mascara could not fulfilled since they were out of stock. So I opted to try the other mascara from Shea Moisture and that brush… messy is the best way to put it. I had to clean up so many smudges and my lashes clumped together a lot. I looked like Raggedy Ann. So much lash coaming needed. I used it for 2 weeks and pulled the wand from my old tube out, washed and disinfected it throughly and switched the wands. I feel like the formula must be the same and it is just the brushes that are different.

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Pros

  • The formula/look it provides. I like how smooth and thick the formula is, so I can get the added volume I like. It also does not flake, or at least it has not done that to me. There was one comment I read where they stated it flaked.
  • Affordability. With the subscription online at Target (so that I have it automatically delivered to me every 3 months) it costs $8.62, which is the cheapest natural mascara I have found.
  • Accessibility. Always available at Target and Ulta, but I have seen it in a few other stores as well.
  • Cruelty free. No animals were harmed in the making of this product.

Natural Product Review – Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh

I like many folks like to keep my home smelling fresh, ESPECIALLY because I workout at home and do not want it to smell like a gym. Also, with the long, intense winters around the Great Lakes region you do not get a lot of chances to air out your place for months. I have been trying to do this more naturally a few different ways using candles and essential oils. Although, keeping your home smelling fresh naturally could be as easy as picking up a pre-made room spray from a natural store like Whole Foods.

I chose to creating my own thing since a lot of the pre-made, natural room sprays I found were too similar to my perfume choices. I prefer to not blend in with the scent of my home.

Essential oils

I use essential oils in several ways:

  • If I need an invigorating shower I apply a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the floor before I start my shower. This is fantastic if you are sick, since eucalyptus is the scent of Vicks.
  • In the winter, I add it to the water in the humidifier. By morning, our bed room smells like rosemary. You could also get a diffuser.
  • I create my own room spray using water (8 oz.), rubbing alcohol (1.5 oz.) and essential oil of choice (15 drops). I really like the more herbal scents around the house, though I throw lemon or cedar in there to help with keeping bugs away.

I have found all of these options to be great! Yes, it takes more work to assemble the spray, but small bottles of essential oils take up much less space AND both Target and Meijer started having them on their shelves for very reasonable prices! The ones I have been buying are Natures Truth and they seem to run about $6.99 per bottle which lasts me quite a while since one drop goes a long way. Often find them on sale too. The same essential oils in other brands can run you anywhere from $8.99 to $24.99… ouch.

Scented candles

This are quite simple, select a scent, place it the middle of the room and light the candle. However, I have found some brands to be better than others.

  • My absolute favorite ones come from this woman at the farmer’s market who has a lavender farm. She makes her own essential oil, teas, beauty products, candles and more with the lavender she grows. She uses soy to make her candles because its plentiful in this region of the country.
  • We recently picked up a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day lavender candle to go with our multi-purpose cleaner I mentioned in a previous home product post. They are also made with soy. It goes quite well with the cleaner and so far does not seem to burn too quickly.
  • Lastly, I love the Aromatherapy brand candles at Target! We have bought most of the scents, but Love and Peaceful are the ones we enjoy the most have have bought more than once. The candles last forever and are a mix of soy and paraffin waxes. I know getting paraffin wax treatments is considered questionably healthy, but I am not sure about burning it. These candles though have scents I have been trying to replicate in my room spray with essential oils.

How do you naturally improve the scent of your home?

Natural Product Review – Pest Repellants

Happy Mother’s Day!

I am in between my work trips and want to share with you a way I use all natural items around the house. As I have said before, my partner and I live in two different cities with household issues not everyone loves to talk about. Our place in the city I work in is a “garden level” room, i.e. basement. Spiders are an issue and man are they big! Then in the city he works in we have a 2nd story apartment across from a river. We have assumed our neighbors must poorly store their food, so not only have we seen a lot of spiders due to bugs around the place, but mice have been an issue.

Honestly, putting out to the world that we have had mice made me nervous because I had been taught it was something that made you dirty/messy, but we do not seem to have control over the presence of mice. We keep things clean and store our food in airtight containers. However! We were able to find brilliant natural solutions that does not involve traps or killing of any critters. 🙂

Pantry Bugs and Roaches

These are really all about proper food storage and cleaning up after yourself. First, you NEED air tight containers or at least bag clips like the ones from IKEA. Second, after you cook and eat, wipe down your counters and table, then sweep up at least the areas where food was prepared and eaten. Pantry bugs especially love to hang out in your flour or sugar, so air tight containers are a must! Though, I also store them in the fridge at one of our apartments which keeps them safe as well.

Mosquitos

It is not as big of an issue in the Great Lakes region as it was for us growing up in Missouri and Louisiana along the Mississippi River, but you can still run into them in July and August. This year we are investing in a citronella plant for our balcony. I was talking with one of our neighbors who I noticed NEVER has cob webs hanging around, like the rest of us and she said it was all thanks to that little bush they bought. It keeps the bugs away and therefore keeps the outdoor spiders away. I am looking forward to finally enjoying that balcony.

Spiders and Mice

This really is our most common “pest” in both our homes. I personally do not have an issue with some spiders around, but I am concerned with possible infestation of and poison-ness spiders. Spider bites can be scary. Now, taking care of the other bugs do help with spiders, so that is why I started off with those. For this, I keep two things around:

When the hedge apples start popping up in the farmer’s market or I find a osage orange plant, I get about half a dozen of them to place in different corners of the apartment. In the 2nd story apartment they dry out and we keep them around all year. In addition, we use lemon and peppermint essential oils, drops of them, in the corners of the apartment and behind or under furniture. We have noticed a significant difference in the amount of spiders since starting to use these around our apartments.

Mice

Story time, about a year after moving into our apartment, my partner saw his first mouse. He had never experienced mice before and immediately felt panicked and stressed. Naturally, with that state of mind he just did what ever he could to get them out. After some research though, we found some more humane options.

  1. We tried traps to catch them un harmed, HA! Those clever mice escaped in no time.
  2. We tried to block where they were coming in and they just squeezed through our or CHEWED through.
  3. I tried sweeping and mopping daily to make it seem like an unappealing place. They would just come in to have a little walk around the apartment!
  4. Lastly, I saw hedge apples at the farmer’s market and a sign that said, “Naturally keep mice away!” I thought, if this works, we do not have to move. THEY WORKED! Ever since we bought some and left them one in each room, we have not seen or heard a single mouse! THANK GOODNESS!

Please share any natural pest control methods you use! Also, if you are a fan of Bob’s Burgers like we are… Hugs Not Bugs!

 

 

Natural Product Review – Method Daily Shower Cleaner

With Spring starting tomorrow, I thought it very appropriate to review a cleaning product. I have been using the same shower spray since I first started sharing living quarters with my partner. I love him and he cleans up great, but his products can leave quite a lot of soap scum… on top of the gross residue we had developed mold in our shower, which he is incredibly allergic to! The smallest amount of mold or mildew and he cannot breathe.

I picked up the Method Daily Shower Cleaner in the Ylang ylang scent at Target back in 2011 and I still use it. It looks like they even have another scent (eucalyptus mint), but I believe we have the same scent since day one. I personally find cleaning the shower to be exhausting, so I am happy to have found a product that can help me out with this. Here are my pros and cons:

Cons:

  • The scent may take some getting use to. Initially, my partner was bothered by the scent and thought it too strong, but he now thinks of it as a sign of a clean bathroom. I have found this to be a case for many of our “uniquely” scented natural cleaning products, but we both agree that it is a huge improvement from the dizzy feelings we get around bleach agents.

Pros:

  • Less frequent meticulous cleaning. Maybe some of you find this gross, but we wipe down the walls of our shower and the tub once a month now. This spray keeps the shower clean without the need for scrubbing. We only wipe the walls once a month and it is mostly just to get hair.
  • Ease of use. Just spray the walls and tub post shower. Thats it! So simple and takes less than 30 seconds.
  • The packaging. The initial spray bottle I purchased in 2011 is the same one we use today. Thanks to their refill bottles, you can skip purchasing the spray bottle all together if you already have one on hand!
  • Affordability. The initial spray bottle, I believe, cost just under $3. As I said, we now buy the refill bottle at $4.99. This lasts us on average 4 – 5 months.
  • Accessibility. Always available at Target and I have seen it in many other stores as well. I would say this is a major barrier to my using a product. I have received recommendations or samples in the past, but then could not locate the product in my area or even online.
  • Cruelty free. No animals were harmed in the making of this product.

We just love this product and have not been disappointed. Look for another cleaning product review next month, I think I will stick with this trend all Spring long. 🙂 Let me know if you have product suggestions in the comments below.

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!

Natural Product Review – Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant

I wanted to start doing occasional review posts on the natural products I have been trying to move on to recently. So here is the first in this series. Currently, I am using Schmidt’s Naturals Deodorant Signature Jar in Lavender & Sage. I have been using it since July 2016 and use it everyday I am home, since I do not like to travel with glass because it adds additional weight and I worry about it breaking. I originally heard about this product from a YouTuber, Lauren Toyota from Hot for Food.

Let me back track a bit to tell you about the skin under my arms. I took about 2 weeks off from all deodorant/antiperspirant before switching to natural deodorant in July and learned a lot about how I sweat and smell. In general, I am not a heavy sweater unless it is above 90° outside or I am doing a high intensity workout. My underarms most of the time feel dry and itchy, but somehow develop the typical body odor. In my daily routine, I start off with applying deep moisturizer to my underarms and then apply deodorant about an hour later.

Now, how Schmidt’s Naturals Deodorant works is it uses baking soda (or magnesium in the Sensitive Skin Formula) to neutralize odor and they say, “our formula contains natural plant powders to absorb wetness, so even though Schmidt’s doesn’t prevent you from sweating, it will still help keep you dry!” I see arrowroot powder in the ingredients listed, is great at absorbing liquid, which is why it can be used as a replacement from corn starch in cooking. Let us dive into my pros and cons regarding this product:

Pros:

  • It works! I do not notice ANY body odor from my underarms. Also, I sweat minimally in high temperatures or during intense exercise.
  • Amazing scent! I also loved the other scents. I plan to get the Bergamot and Lime next.
  • Only need to apply once per day. It works all day without need of reapplying the product.
  • Applies easily. Since I purchased the pot, I just use my finger to pull up a pea size amount, rub between my fingers and apply gently to my underarms. Then I wipe my fingers clean on a towel.
  • Free of the toxins you find in the top commercial antiperspirants. “Free of aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens & phthalates.”
  • Does not stain my clothing. The commercial brands would always leave oil stains in the pits of my shirts and sweaters, which only makes it appear as if you are sweaty. If Schmidt’s gets on my clothes I can not tell and the oily pit stains are finally gone from my clothing.
  • Lasts a long time, I have been using this pot for almost 6 months and slightly over half still remains. I do travel a fair amount and use a different deodorant during those times, but would say that only adds up to about a months worth of time from the 6 month period.
  • Made in the USA. Portland, OR to be exact. Happy to invest my money into a local to USA product!
  • Vegan. No animals were harmed in the making of these products.
  • Comes in both stick and pot/jar form. I find I use a more appropriate amount of product with the jar, but I know most folks just prefer to convince of the stick.
  • Recycling Club promotion. If you are into the jars, you can take part in their recycling club which allows you to exchange 5 empty jars for a free Schmidt’s product. They even pay for the shipping! So it is truly free.

Cons:

  • Does not help with my dry skin. I still need to apply lotion before my deodorant to prevent itchiness from extremely dry skin. However, I am curious to see if their new sensitive skin formula may help with this.
  • It costs more than the conventional brands. However, I have found that it lasts longer than commercial brands, so this is not entirely a con since I get more uses for my money.

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Overall, I believe it should be obvious that I love the product and the company. I had been constantly disappointed in the conventional brands and been looking to switch to natural products for better wellness. I am glad I listened to Lauren Toyota and picked this as one of the first natural products I tried! #FeelingLucky

I will continue to review natural products about once a month during 2017. Please let me know if you have any questions for me about this product or any product I review in the future. I will be slowly switching my products over to natural versions as I use up my current supply and sure to only review things after at least 3 months of use so they are well tested by myself.

Tone It Up + Nutrition Plan Review

I was inspired to review this program about a month ago when a gal who has followed Tone It Up (AKA TIU) from the beginning (like myself) posted a honest review to Instagram after attending one of their retreats. I want to start off with saying, you can still achieve a fit body without spend $100+ on a nutrition plan. This is true about ANY nutrition plan. It just takes time to educate yourself and figure out how your body responds to certain foods.

When I first started following TIU, Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott clearly creating a lot of their own content. They worked very hard to gather sponsors for their fitness challenges to be able to provide prizes to participants. Things have changed thanks to their great success. They have inspired millions of women around the world to come together to improve their health. They really have built a community of women that are focused on supporting each other’s health and fitness goals.

You should take into consideration that although, I have followed them for a long time and enjoy their workouts, I feel that I have never whole heartedly joined the TIU community. At no point in time was TIU the only health and fitness resource I was following. I do not even think I ever signed up for an account on the TIU community website. I just do not find it is best for me to just follow one program 100%. I try to customize diet and exercise to fit with my own spirit and goals.

TIU provides workouts, health advice and recipes for free and at a cost. They post to their blog daily and upload youtube videos about once per week. I love the Spotify playlists they share for workouts, their focus on developing a positive mindset and their big recommendation to not do this alone. The only products their provide that I spent money on were the book (at a special discount of $16) and a necklace from their shop that was on clearance. However, most women in the community have purchased the nutrition plan and much, much more from their fast growing product line.

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Just looking at their website you can see how so many women who have invested the lifetime nutrition plan have changed their bodies, their progress has just been brilliant! However, I had felt I could never afford the luxury of purchasing the nutrition plan since the little money I had extra at the end of the month needed to go toward being able to visit my family. So I sampled the simpler recipes they shared on their blog. They were good, but only after modification. I always tweaked their recipes, mostly because of taste.

Then, my best friend purchased a regular version of the nutrition plan. They also have vegetarian, gluten free and vegan editions. She shared it with me because she knew I would likely never treat myself to getting a copy no matter how curious I was. Before trying any of the recipes, I read through all the Part 1 guidance material.

Part 1 got me thinking about what I put into my body and at what time of day to do so and how food impacts how I look. In my opinion it is really designed and focused to maintain that beach body look. After some self-reflection, I reminded myself that how I look was never my top priority. My health, energy and mood are at the top of my list and looking ripped or having the perfect beach body plays a minor role. Nevertheless, I know this is a major plus to other folks.

Now did it help me achieve a beach body look when I followed it for a period of a month? To be completely honest, I am not sure it did. My best friend shared it with me at the same time I was changing how I ate to be gut friendly. Most of the recipes had ingredients my doctor explicitly instructed me to avoid. So I just could not follow the recipes to a T due to my IBS. On top of that, the quality of the guide was lacking for me. Here were my issues with the plan:

  • Many of the instructions were incomplete. At times I had to guess how to prepare an ingredient or when to include it in the cooking process. For how much you pay for the nutrition plan, a professional editorial eye should had been applied to it!
  • Too much sweeteners! This is where I constantly had to modify. I like my entrees to be savory. The breakfasts, desserts and smoothies were sickeningly sweet to me even before I developed a no sugar added palette. If I wanted something that sweet, I rather pick up some frozen custard.
  • The spicier recipes were not flavorful enough for me. I find I have to almost double the amount of spices in most of the ethnic recipes.
  • Again, for how much you pay for the plan there should have been guidance on pairing sides with entrees. Without a side, they typically did not have enough calories to sustain me.

Needless to say, I decided against purchasing the nutrition plan myself after getting a chance to check it out.  Friends have offer to share the newest version with me and I always pass. I feel much better eating and cooking more freely by taking a recipe and making it my own, like the Lauren Toyota approach to cooking. I take the opportunity to understand the ingredients, use food I already have, buy seasonal produce, understand the role each item plays in the recipe and learn to create things that work for me and my family.

Another change I noticed about a year ago is that TIU has really upped their marketing and production of non-essential products. You do not need special protein powder developed to work with the plan, a two-toned yoga mat, quinoa puffs, high tech socks, a “Rose all day” shirt, etc. to achieve a beach body or just a healthy body. Most people need a good support group to stay accountable to their goals and healthy food. You can do this without unnecessary spending on all the extra junk.

I say, invest your time in preparing the food you eat, people who support you and fitness that serves your mind and body. Then, put your money into quality workout gear and good whole foods. You will see results faster than you think just keeping it simple. I honestly feel like all the extra products cause me to crave spending money on more needless accessories and even junk food. Wasting money on products I just had to have in the moment ruins the joy and happiness I get from living a fit, healthy lifestyle. The budget is important to maintaining my future happiness.

I appreciate TIU for its fun workouts that inspired me early on to work up a good sweat and their book that leads you through powerful mindset changing practices. I know Karena and Katrina are amazing women. I just do not feel the TIU program is designed for my goals. Another reason to look at this as a tool you can use to build a healthier you and not the only tool.

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