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Arbonne RE9 Advanced Skin Care Review

Recently, a old friend from high school contacted me about a new product he discovered and thought I might be interested in – Arbonne. I normally run and hide from anything associated with multi-level marketing, but for some reason, I stuck around to listen to his pitch and ultimately decided to give one of Arbonne’s skin care lines a try.

I mean, at this point in my life, what do I have to lose? Well, other than wrinkles, age spots, redness, dry skin – the list goes on and on unfortunately.

I have tried hundreds of skin care products and dozens of lines over the years. I am always trying to balance safety and effectiveness. I want something natural and nontoxic, but also, I am okay with a safe level of chemicals and preservatives, because I want it to actually work. I have used completely natural (food-grade) lines that had me breaking out in a painful skin rash, and used not so natural lines that didn’t do anything to improve my skin. My skin is really dry and super sensitive, so finding good skin care is not easy. I have been fairly disappointed most of the time I try a new skin line.

What I like about Arbonne – and the main reason I decided to try the products – is the transparency of their ingredients. The company’s mission is to develop products that combine the best of nature and leading science. Nature and science –  I am a big fan of both.

Arbonne’s products are safe, nontoxic, and committed to being eco-friendly. They proactively search for the purest, most unadulterated botanical ingredients from natural sources. Arbonne’s formulas are free from animal products or by-products, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, benzene, bisphenol-a, carbon black, formaldehyde-donating preservatives, hydroquinone, mineral oil, parabens, petrolatum, phthalates, sodium laureth sulfates (SLES), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), synthetic dyes, talc, triclosan and triethanolamine (TEA).

For me, being “green” means more than just ingredients, it’s about a company minimizing its environmental footprint as much as possible. On that note, I appreciate that Arbonne uses soy-based inks and FSC-certified renewable resources for paper and printed materials, their shipping boxes are made primarily of recycled material and are recyclable, the majority of their product packaging is recyclable, and shipments are certified carbon neutral.

But, do they actually work? This was the remaining question for me. Here is what I tried and my results …

I purchased the Arbonne RE9 Advanced line and used it regularly for a few months. This line involves a five-step skin care system, which includes: (1) Smoothing Facial Cleanser, (2) Regenerating Toner, (3) Intensive Renewal Serum, (4) Corrective Eye Crème, Night Repair Crème, and (5) Extra Moisture Restorative Day Crème with Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen in the morning or (5) Night Repair Cream at night.

It sounds complicated and time-consuming, but after the first couple of days, I had it down to under five minutes – morning and night. I admit that I skipped some steps if I was rushed in the morning – just did cleansing, eye cream and moisturizer. In the evening, I stuck pretty religiously to the regimen. I usually spend about a half an hour watching TV in the evening before bed, so I  washed my face, then set the rest of the products on my night stand, and did my nightly moisturizing while watching The Daily Show (side note – of course, you can moisturize watching any program you choose. I just found that watching Trevor Noah while moisturizing made my laugh lines increase and frown lines reduce – which has been especially helpful for me over the past few months. 😉 )

For this experiment, I decided to take before and after pictures. Honestly, until I compared them side by side, I was still pretty skeptical. Please note that I did not retouch these photos at all and was wearing no makeup in either (yikes!). Here are the before and after photos I took:

arbonnere9collageYes, the lighting is not exactly the same due to different times of the day (and yes, I blow dried my hair in the after – being horrified by my wet hair in the “before”), but still, I think there are some clearly visible results. Of course, the wrinkles are still there. I mean seriously, nothing short of needles or surgery will do anything about those. However, the main difference I see is in my skin tone, hydration and coloring. I see a significant reduction in redness and discoloration on my skin – particularly in the up close shot.

Recently, I received some complements out of the blue from friends on my skin. I also noticed when using the product my skin was significantly more hydrated and less dry and scaly. But until I saw these photos and compared them side by side, I wasn’t so sure if this really worked for me.

I can honestly say, my skin feels better, more hydrated and more even in tone than it has in a very long time. In spite of the fact that my stress level has been pretty high lately, I don’t feel like it is showing on my face. Yay for good skin care! That, combined with lots and lots of water (I do not go anywhere without my reusable water bottle), seems to have balanced out the lack of sleep and over-indulgence in wine and comfort food since late October.

To order the RE9 line, or any other Arbonne product, you can contact my friend, and all-around good guy, Todd Eising via email, or find his Arbonne catalog here.

(Note: I did not receive any products in exchange for posting this review. I also am not selling Arbonne myself and receive no proceeds from the sale of any of their products. Opinions and reviews on this blog are – as always – unpaid, unbiased and from my personal experience.)

DIY Counter-top Cleaner

Many friends have asked me to share my recipe for homemade counter-top cleaner recently, so I thought this would be a good time to re-post. If you have made a resolution to use safer, more natural cleaning products in the new year, this is a great place to start.

This solution can be used on all types of counter-top surfaces – granite, quartz, ceramic tile. It’s even safe enough for marble.

Granite, marble, and many other types of counter surfaces are porous and require a special type of cleaner. Do not use vinegar or any citrus-based cleaner on your stone counter-tops. Both are too acidic for porous surfaces. Over time, they will dull and scratch your beautiful stone. (Also DO NOT use Windex on granite –  it strips the counter of it’s sealant).

There are plenty of safe, natural counter cleaners available for purchase (Method and Howard’s Naturals are two I like), but I haven’t found a granite cleaner for under $8 anywhere.

I like to clean my counter tops A LOT, so I went looking for something homemade – simple, safe, effective and cheap.

I didn’t create this recipe, but I did revise slightly. I grabbed it from a site called Mama Cheaps. Here is that recipe along with my modifications:

  • 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol or vodka (both natural disinfectants)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 6 drops of dish detergent
  • 4-5 drops of essential oil (to make it smell pretty)

I prefer vodka to rubbing alcohol because it has no odor. Vodka of the Gods from Trader Joe’s is my vodka of choice- it’s TJ’s cheapest brand. One bottle ($9.99) lasts for over a year of cleaning – makes 16 bottles of cleaner! A fraction of the $8-$10 per bottle for store-bought cleaner.

I use a variety of essential oils – peppermint, lavender, orange. These oils are a bit expensive but each bottle lasts for years and years. You can mix and match them to create your own custom scent.

granitecleaning

This recipe, an empty spray bottle (you can even reuse your store-bought bottle) and a soft cloth is all you need to keep your counters sparkling clean and disinfected – at a fraction of the cost!

Cheers to a healthy and happy 2017! And if it can’t be either of those, it can at least be clean, right?

Vlog: More Post Election Thoughts – Where Do I Go From Here?

I’ve been lying low for the past few weeks, both with personal social obligations and social media. I really tried after the election to return to every day life, but try as I might, it just wouldn’t stick.

The light-hearted posts on social media feel hollow and discussion about the weather in every day life, meaningless. It all feels totally inauthentic for me right now.

I made a conscious effort a couple of years ago, to extract “political me”, from “every other part of me”. In an effort to maintain good relations with friends and relatives, and to stop debating with the same Facebook friends over and over again, I contained my political posts to my OC Green Mama Facebook page – taking them off my personal page entirely.

As a result, I haven’t spent much of any time on Facebook, except to check in with a few news sources and share interesting article on my Blog page. Because I almost can not think or talk about much of anything else but this horrible election. I even dream about it – EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. There is literally no escape.

As I mentioned in my last post, this election has changed me profoundly. I can’t seem to describe it as well in written words as I can verbally, so I made a quick video to try to communicate how I’m feeling.

Okay, so it wasn’t as quick as I thought. 😉 Looks like I have quite a bit to say. Even if no one watches, it felt good to get it out there.

If you are struggling too, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, email me, Tweet me, or leave me a Facebook comment or message. We need to listen to and support each other – now more than ever.

Be well friends. Thanks for listening.

Post-Election Thoughts, WTF Do We Do Now?

Friends, I am grieving. And I need a little time. Please do not say that I am exaggerating or need to stop my liberal, poor-loser whining. I know what grieving feels like. I have survived the death of loved ones, 9/11, the loss of a business I was passionate about, and almost lost a marriage. I know what pain is. I have been to quite a bit of therapy. I am well aware of the stages of the grieving process.

Many of us are going through this. If you are too, I recommend this article on post-election grief over at the Huffington Post.

Please do not tell us to just get over it (we can’t), stop our complaining (we won’t), or hope for the best (we don’t). I for one, am pretty low on hope right now. I believe that some of us may get there eventually, but we need time. I’ve moved through shock and anger, and am on to depression. I’m making progress. Yay!

One of the most painful things to me as a mom, was watching the reaction of my kids. My daughter cried herself to sleep on election night while my son was completely shut down and silent. He didn’t need to say anything. I could see the despair in his eyes. I am doing everything I can to support them, give them perspective and hope, and ease their fears – while at the same time, downplaying my own feelings for their sake.

This is not about party or politics. This is about who we are as a country, what we stand for, and the leadership that we show the world. I read a New York Times article this morning, and this quote by its author, Charles M. Blow, sums up my feelings perfectly –

“It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself.”

Right now, I feel lost, unsafe, and scared. And I’m a white woman in suburban Orange County. I can’t even imagine how African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQs, immigrants and people with disabilities are feeling.

This article, entitled “Farewell America” says this better than I can –

“We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.”

This is real friends. Already, there are reports of Muslim and Latino students in California being harassed, an Asian-American woman attacked by a Trump supporter in Minnesota,and a swastika and a message of Make America White Again spray painted on a baseball field in New York. If you can stomach more, see this collection of Twitter posts, “Day 1 in Trump’s America“.

So as much as I want to curl up in the fetal position and drink Cabernet until the pain goes away, I can not. Not for me, not for my children, and not for all of those who are vulnerable and have been marginalized and demonized by the President-elect.

After we move through the stages of grief, exercise some self-care, bury our feelings in too many bowls of ice cream, and hug our families, we have got to take action. It’s time to step it up friends.

This election has changed me. Scarred me permanently. But it has also woken me up to how much work we still have to do in this country. I am now and will forever be an activist – not the previous activist that I thought I was – volunteer-for-some-causes, donate-money-to-some-charities, and try-to-influence-a-few-friends type of activist. Rather I am becoming a no-holds-barred, I-will-shout-from-the-rooftops, I-don’t-care-if-I-lose-friends activist. F*ck this shit! This. Must. Stop.

Here are some of the things I plan to do for now. I hope some of you will consider joining me:

  • Continue to foster a home environment that promotes tolerance, acceptance, understanding and love. I would rather that my children grow up to be kind, than get in to Harvard or make a bunch of money. In our home, we will talk more about our shared values, and how we can love and accept and reach out to those who are not like us. This is a good article to discuss at the post-election dinner table –  “What Do We Tell The Children“.
  • Volunteer in my local community to support causes that matter to me. Not volunteer just around the holidays or when it is convenient. I will find a cause and devote time to it – weekly.
  • Speak out whenever I see (either in person or online) racism, bigotry, misogyny, or hate against any individual or group of people. I believe that now, we must radiate goodness and kindness from the bottom up. I do not see that it will be modeled at the top anytime soon. We must be the change. Now more than ever.
  • Read and reread, and read again this article from Mother Jones, “Don’t Mourn, Fight Like Hell“. From this piece – “Trump appealed to America’s worst impulses. Now it’s on the rest of us to show, to prove, that this is not all that America is. This is a time when we’re called on to do things we may not have done before. To face down bigotry and hate, and to reach beyond our Facebook feeds in trying to do so.”
  • Seek to understand those who feel differently and think differently. I am trying, like really trying. It is hard. I’m not going to lie. But in the end, I strive to understand the pain, the hopelessness, the anger – that makes someone support this man. I will not shame them. I will seek to find common ground. Even if they don’t do the same in return. It’s the only way to get through and out of this mess. This piece was helpful for me, “Stop Shaming Trump Supporters“.
  • Join and donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They do good work to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Their work is more important than ever.
  • Join and donate to Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office.
  • Check out this list of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry organizations.
  • Volunteer and donate to environmental causes. The earth (and all of those who live here) is going to need all the help she can get fighting a president who believes climate change is a “hoax”. I recommend the 350.org, the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club for a start.

Let this election enrage but also motivate us. That is the one and only silver lining I can find.

Let’s do more, fight harder, be louder, and be the change. Most importantly, let us spread love and light and tolerance to all people who we touch. We can be the change. Now more than ever, we must be the difference. It is the only chance we have. I hope you will join me.

So for now, we love, love, and love some more. Not a weak and passive love. A love that is strong – that can move mountains. A love that stands up for Americans – all Americans. In my heart, I truly believe … we are stronger together.

love

 

 

 

We Could All Use More Free Passes

I have wanted to write about this topic for some time, but for some reason, I haven’t yet. It feels like the right time now. With all the negativity in the world, I think we could all use a little more compassion, more understanding, and more forgiveness in our lives. On many days, we all could just use a “free pass”.

The “free pass” is something I created a few years ago, and now I find that I use it all the time.

Here is how it usually works: I run across someone during my day and maybe they are agitated, angry, or even sometimes, downright rude. Now, I’ve never met this person before or don’t know them well. Instead of getting annoyed or making all kinds of horrible assumptions about them, I just issue them a “free pass” and go along with my day.

The thing is, that person may be dealing with something difficult – a fight with a spouse, illness, or problems with their kids. It has nothing to do with me so I can’t take it personally. And their actions may be totally out of character for them, so I can’t make some sweeping judgment about them.

For me, it’s an offshoot of the quote by T.H. Thompson and John Watson, “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” I’m sure most of you have heard this quote before, but it’s a powerful one. I try to think of it often and keep it close to me so I don’t forget its message.

Even if someone is a friend, you may not be aware of or understand that battle. You can issue a free pass to friends and family too – like to a friend who is normally reliable but suddenly flakes out on an obligation, or a family member who is short with you because you caught them in a bad moment.

Of course there are people who eventually run out of free passes. It’s not an endless pass to be a jerk. But those people are really few and far between.

So, the next time someone cuts you off trying to get on the freeway, just give them a free pass and move on. It’s a small gesture but the world would be a better place if we all walked around with a bunch of these in our pocket:

free-pass

Fake Patriotism Makes Me Cringe

I have had this fire lit under me lately about the what I call “fake patriotism” and I can’t take it anymore people. Not. One. More. Day – I’m done.

I am so incredibly sick of the “you have to have ten million American flags flying onstage”, “you have to stand and have your hand over your heart at all times when the anthem is playing”, “when I was a kid we said the pledge in school every day” movements I CAN NOT TAKE IT anymore.

First and foremost, let me get this out of the way – KIDS STILL SAY THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE EVERY SINGLE DAY. Yep, every day. At school. The one that says “one nation under God.”  My kids have said it every single day of grade school, junior high, and high school – both public and private schools. EVERY DAY!! So please stop with your “our nation would be saved if only kids said the pledge every day” memes. You know, these ones –

predgeofallegiance

No. It is simply not true that they do not do it for fear of offending someone. This is not a thing. Now, the only difference is that students are not forced to say it. It is optional. But, um, hello, I’m pretty sure that is progress, not a terrifying new world order.

On that note, all public places (schools, government offices, etc.) and all private homes are allowed to fly the flag. Always. So stop with that nonsense too. Just stop. Please.

The latest controversy in this vein, involves my favorite football team, The San Francisco 49ers. And it’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Apparently, he didn’t stand for the national anthem. Oh my! The horror! An American citizen sitting in protest of what he feels is unfair in this country. Can you believe it?!

Specifically, Kaepernick said he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

You can agree or not agree with his statement. You can be a “black lives matter” or an “all lives matter” person. I am not getting into that in this post. It’s too long to cover and for me, beside the point. The thing is, what I love so much about this country, is it affords him the opportunity to make this statement. This is fundamental to our democracy.

It reminds me of this John Kerry quote, which I love –

“We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.”

The HEART AND SOUL OF PATRIOTISM. It’s the ability to speak our minds freely and stand up for what we feel is right – without repercussions.

While he will have no legal repercussions (because thank goodness, we live in the LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE), I am quite certain, that like the Dixie Chicks before him, given his audience, he will have public, and later, financial repercussions.

Here is the NFL’s statement on this matter – “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

Yes, yes and yes. I could not agree more. Patriotism is not defined by flying a million flags, or placing your hand over your heart, or reciting the pledge. For me, patriotism is being educated about American history, being involved in our democratic process, and most importantly – expressing yourself freely without fear of being retaliated against. Oh yes, and VOTING!!

These are not the stories that make me outraged, rather, these are the stories that make me believe more than ever – we live in the GREATEST country in the world.

Now excuse me while I put on my America flag dress and parade down the street, with my hand over my heart, reciting the pledge of allegiance, of course…

an-american-flag-dress

 

 

The 12 Afterburn Nutrition Program: Final Results

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Last week I completed my nine week Afterburn Nutritional Coaching at The 12 in Irvine. In spite of the fact that I spent the final weekend of my challenge on a girls weekend in Chicago – vacation binging – I am happy with the results.

After the weekend of indulging, I was a little nervous about my final weigh in. Luckily, I had done enough well over the nine-week period that I could overcome some deep dish pizzas, Chicago dogs, and cold beer. By the way, totally worth it.

At the conclusion of nine weeks of Afterburn Nutritional Counseling, I am happy to report that I have lost 10.8 pounds of fat. I am even more excited that I gained 1.1 pounds of muscle. Muscle gain is not easy for me to do at this advanced age. 😉

Reluctantly, I share a before and after photo. It’s okay, my kids don’t read this blog. Here is my mama-belly, before and after –

IMG_1485

My weight is fairly evenly distributed, so it’s not a dramatic change in the photo. I did reduce my body fat percentage by 28%, from 24.7% to 17.7%, which is a pretty significant improvement. An improvement that allows me to fit into all my clothes again – no Spanx required.

Far more important than the reflection in the mirror or the number on the scale though, is how I feel – healthy, strong and happy. I celebrated a birthday during the nine-week program, and took time to reflect and appreciate this step I have taken to improve my long-term health and wellness.

There may not be anything I can do about the growing number of candles on my cake, the gray hairs on my head, or the wrinkles on my face, but what I can control is what I feed my body and how much I move. My goal for this life is to be healthy and strong enough to participate in the activities I enjoy – hiking, running, and generally just keeping up with my teenagers. I hope to enjoy these activities for many years to come. I want more moments like this – my sixteen mile hike to the top of Santiago Peak.

Hikepic

Thanks to the Afterburn Nutrition program, I achieved this goal, and am looking forward to tackling more in the future.

The Afterburn Nutrition program gets results. I’m not speaking just for me. I have seen it time and time again – for every client who truly commits to the program. These are some of the reasons why I believe it works so well:

Personalized nutritional counseling and education – The 12’s team of Certified Nutritionists customize the program for each and every client. Their extensive experience helping a broad range of men and women, means that they have the training and in-depth knowledge to help each individual client achieve his or her goals. They understand the connection between macronutrients and the human body, but that everyone is ultimately an experiment of one. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. It was very much customized to my body type, activity level and fitness goals. The 12’s Coaches also juggle work, family, and fitness themselves, and understand how to help clients achieve balance. Plus, they are a pretty photogenic group.

Afterburn Nutrition Coaches

Daily food logging and accountability – The process of logging everything you eat and having that log reviewed by your coach provides immediate and sustained accountability. I can’t tell you how many times I thought “I really don’t want to log this food and I really, really don’t want my coach to see that I ate that.” Just that thought alone prevented me from eating (and drinking) things that would not have helped me achieve my goals.

Eating frequently and focusing on macronutrients – I detailed my diet extensively in this post, so I won’t get into many specifics, but eating frequently (5-6 meals per day), with  balanced macronutrients revs up your metabolism and staves off hunger. I never felt hungry on this plan. What was really exciting for me, is that I could actually feel my body becoming more efficient. I imagined it becoming a fat-burning machine, and in reality, it was.

Limiting alcohol – Right after “what are you eating?”, the biggest question people asked me during the nine weeks is “how are you doing without wine?” In truth, I didn’t have zero alcohol for the entire nine weeks of the program. I was very good for about six weeks, then reintroduced wine to my diet during the last few weeks. For me, this was more realistic. I know that I will not forgo wine forever, so learning how to balance it during the last few weeks was important for my long-term success.

A couple of notes on alcohol. First, if you want to achieve your best results, eliminating alcohol is key – not forever, but for some extended period of time. If you just do this one thing (and keep everything else constant), you will make improvements in your health. Second, when I eliminated alcohol entirely from my diet, my sleep improved dramatically. As a person who suffers from insomnia somewhat regularly, a good solid night of sleep is one of the most coveted things in my life. When I eliminated sugar, processed foods and alcohol from my diet, my sleep improved significantly. I have been sleeping well for nine weeks, and I can’t even tell you what a difference that makes in my life. It’s a nutritional challenge miracle!

Exercising regularly – While participating in the program, I exercised 4-5 days per week. I detailed more about my exercise regimen in this post. While regular exercise maximized my results, it was not significantly more what I was doing before I started the nine-week plan. Exercise keeps you healthy and strong (both physically and mentally) but if you are looking for fat loss, it really, really, really boils down to nutrition. I can not emphasize this point enough.

A coach in your corner – Having my coach, Cyrus Mokhtari, in my corner was invaluable. I learned so much about nutrition in our weekly meetings – about optimizing pre and post workout meals, balancing macros, best sources of proteins, fats and carbohydrates – the list goes on and on. What I loved most about working with Cyrus is that he is understanding and supportive. He cheered me on when I had success, and didn’t criticize or make me feel bad when I made mistakes. He is on his own journey to achieving his best version himself, so he understands the struggle. He can relate to his clients, and his clients to him. This made me feel like I was part of a team – working together to achieve maximum results.

With good nutrition, regular exercise, and great coaching, I am feeling better than ever heading into summer. Now, my goal is to not get too far off course by all the summer barbecues, vacations and parties – to find the balance between enjoyment of food and discipline in my nutrition. I know it will be an ongoing journey, but now that I’ve completed the Afterburn Nutrition program, I feel armed with the knowledge I need to make the right choices and maintain my results.

If you are interested in discussing how an individual nutrition program can help you achieve balance – physically, mentally and emotionally, I encourage you to contact Cyrus Mokhtari at The 12 for a free Afterburn Nutrition consultation. You have nothing to lose, and a better version of yourself to gain. Summer is a great time to start your own journey. And Cyrus is the guy to help you get there.

Thank you Cyrus, trainers Angela and Sofee, and all the good folks at The 12 for providing me with this opportunity, believing in me, and cheering me on along the way. I couldn’t have achieved the results without you.

Disclaimer: Although I am receiving some complimentary services from The 12, I am not being compensated in any way for participating in this process and documenting my results. All information shared in this blog (as always) is my unbiased, unsponsored opinion.