Category Archives: healthy body

Fitness Friday

I skipped last Friday because I was in a wedding that day, and we were swamped all day with wedding stuff! It was fun, but it didn’t leave me any time at all to blog. So this FF is for two weeks.

Diet

Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.

As long as I keep repeating this to myself, I’m fine. The reality I’m dealing with is that I can’t stand the taste of veggies (I’m not kidding… this is complete with gagging and throwing up in some cases. Dramatic, I know, but it’s the God’s honest truth) and I love sugar (like most people do). I’m doing all I can to train myself to eat better food, but this is way more challenging than I thought it would be. One challenge that I’m facing is that as a Catholic, we really aren’t supposed to eat meat other than fish or other types of seafood on Fridays during lent, but finding good, reliable fish around here right now is difficult. However, I need the protein because I’m working out so much. This tradition normally gets ignored, and I eat chicken.

One other challenge I’m facing is that I discovered that I’m not eating enough calories in a day. Furthermore, I’m not eating enough of the RIGHT calories in a day. IF I get the right amount, that’s great, but it’s not great if the right amount is coming from cookies and brownies.

I’m trying to overcome the vegetable thing. I have managed to get myself to the point where if the vegetable is chopped up into super small pieces and mixed into whatever I’m eating, it usually goes down better. This includes salads- if the broccoli is left in big chunks, I can’t eat it. If it’s really small though and mixed with the spinach (that I love), it goes much better. I’m great on fruits though because of the sugar, so I actually need to scale back on those. I still love the green smoothies, although I have discovered that without banana, it tastes much more vegetable-like.

So, I need to work on eating the right amount of the right food. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.

Fitness

Amazingly, I’m doing awesome with fitness. Due to the medical problems I have (thanks in large part to being fat), I really thought this was going to be an issue. I figured out though that the less I move, the harder it is to move. So if I can get up and immediately go eat breakfast then work out, I set myself up for a day of movement. However, if I’m lazy that day and don’t move, it’s harder to do so later. I’m trying to change my morning habit so I can get into a routine.

One of the ways I’m accomplishing this is to consult my at home strength training flashcard deck. I know there’s a snazzier name for them, but for now, they’re my flashcards. The idea for these came about as a direct result of me being bored with doing the same workouts for days, and having too many workout at home bookmarks on my computer. So, I decided to print out all of the articles.

This isn’t even all of them, actually. They come from a wide variety of sources, from blogs to magazine articles, to random pieces of advice given to me. Anyway, I cut all the workouts out from the printed versions of the articles, and taped them to a large index card.

I put the body part (or parts) that each exercise focuses on, the source of the article, general instructions in terms of reps and sets, a picture from the article if available, and the instructions for each exercise from the article.

I feel that working out while consulting a card is way more efficient and less cumbersome than trying to maneuver my computer into place so I can read the screen while trying to do these. I included the body areas targeted by each workout (remember, the more large muscle groups worked at once, the better), the source of the article (many came from Prevention or Self), and instructions in terms of sets and reps. I cut out a picture of the exercise being performed and the exercise instructions from the articles themselves.

Once this was done, I ended up with a stack of about 130 cards with one exercise on each one. I have about an hour set aside each day, and I simply select two or three cards to do that day in addition to my 100 push ups challenge and cardio.

Now, I’m not delusional. I know that these alone aren’t going to get the job done by themselves, and that’s ok. My goal with these is simply to get up and do something, which sets me up for an entire day of healthy movement. I look at them as a warm-up to my day. An hour of these with a good stretch afterward really works well for me. I always add my walk/jog with the dog at the end of the day and I do the challenges from my Leap Into Summer group as well.

Goals for Next Week

I am going to take my measurements again and get on the scale. I have been a little weary of the scale since my four pounds incident, but I think I have done well enough now for some weight to have come off. In terms of diet, my goal is still to eat the right amount of the right calories of mostly veggies, healthy carbs, and protein.

Another goal for next week is to not drink any soda. None. I HAVE to drink more water, and the only way that’s happening around here is if the soda isn’t even a choice and water is.

I would also like to really keep a great log of my 21 Day Weight Loss Challenge points next week as well.

Have a Fitness Friday blog post? Head over to the Fatty Friday post at Going Crazy, Wanna Go?! link up with us! 

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Four Pounds

This blog is about sharing my successes AND struggles in getting healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Well, here’s a struggle for you all:

I gained four pounds. I know I shouldn’t be surprised after that horrific week I had, but I GAINED FOUR POUNDS. Well, at least my scale says I did. I’m not quite sure if it’s the sodium and I’m retaining water really bad, or if I really have gained four pounds, or what.

Are there any tips out there on maintaining a consistent workout schedule? I’m asking because apparently that’s my biggest problem. I’m great for one or two days, then one bad day happens and I can’t seem to recover from it quickly and just jump back into my normal routine.

There is NO room to mess around this week. I *must* keep right on track with my points in the  Mommy Blogger Weight Loss Challenge (<— this is the name of the program. I swear I’m not making random capitalization errors). I walked all day today (I have a friend in town so we went sight seeing) and managed to skip the fried onion appetizer at dinner. Green smoothie tomorrow for breakfast I guess and we’re grilling chicken for dinner tomorrow with some sort of quinoa and veggie based salad. I was going to add more workouts, but honestly I think I need to work on getting the nutrition down to a science first and then slowly add more workout routines. Walking/jogging with the dog for several miles every day, and the 100 push ups challenge will have to suffice for now. After all, no amount of exercise will compensate for a bad diet.

I’m also buying new shoes tomorrow. Mine are starting to actually cut (literally) my feet and that’s just not going to work for me.

Fitness Friday

Well, week 1 of the 21 Day Mommy Blogger Challenge is over. I didn’t do so hot on the points, mainly because I was downed by a massive migraine headache most of the day Wednesday (hence the lack of a Wednesday post) and the morning half of Thursday.

Tuesday was the worst day though. I was buried under a mound of paperwork so much so that I got about 2 hours of sleep Monday night, and just never went to bed Tuesday night. It really brought me back those all-nighters I pulled as an undergraduate trying to study and get everything done.

Diet

At about 10 o’clock or so Tuesday night I finally got out from my little circle of personal hell that I set up for myself (read: I crawled out from underneath a pile of papers) and went to go cook dinner. We had no veggies, no eggs, no fruit, no Greek yogurt, no cereal, no quinoa, no couscous, nothing. We literally had nothing healthy with which I could make dinner, and to make matters worse, my husband left early Monday morning on a work trip for the week, so sending him to the store wasn’t a choice. I had NO time (literally… I got the paperwork scanned and emailed at 8 o’clock Wednesday morning, about 10 minutes before I had to walk out the door) to go to the store and cook, so I went through a drive-thru.

I don’t even feel guilty about it. I literally feel 0 guilt for hitting a drive-thru. It was too late to hit up a Subway, and it was just one of those things. However, I did learn a lot about what to do if I ever find myself in that situation again (and I will, I’m extremely busy). I learned that I HAVE to have stuff around for a quick snack. I just have to. Drive-thrus, while fine for that one time, are NOT a good solution.

Even though this week was what I would consider a setback more than anything, I did manage to find some really great recipes. Last weekend somebody in my LEAP Into Summer group posted a really awesome recipe for a frozen banana that I modified. This is the modified recipe:

-2 TBS plain greek yogurt

-1/8 tsp. vanilla (I used my homemade vanilla)

-cinnamon to taste

-about 4 or so strawberries

-walnuts

-parchment paper or some other non-stick surface

I took the strawberries and make a strawberry puree with my food processor. I blended it up until I got it pretty smooth, and added it to the greek yogurt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Coat half a banana with the yogurt mixture, sprinkle on some finely chopped walnuts, and freeze on parchment paper from anywhere between 20-45 minutes (depending on how frozen you actually want it).

It's not chocolate cake, but it'll do.

This is before I tried it with the strawberries. See, I can’t stand the taste of greek yogurt or veggies. I can’t STAND it. So I have to come up with some seriously creative ways to mask the taste, although I’m starting to like the yogurt a little more each day.

This snack was amazing. It’s not chocolate cake, but it’s pretty darn close. The strawberries really complemented the taste of the banana, the walnuts added just that little bit of crunch, and the greek yogurt made it just tangy enough. It was delicious. Too bad I ran out of bananas by Monday or else I could have had one of these Tuesday night.

Another great tip I got was to puree some fruit, mix it with greek yogurt, then load the yogurt into a baker’s piping bag (or at my house a plastic bag with a corner cut off) and make little yogurt drops. Freeze them, then you can just pop those as a snack. I’m going to try those next week.

I made more green smoothies as well. I tried adding more spinach and yogurt, and it was still amazing.

Fitness

Two words: wall sit. Best quad workout I have ever found. I did a 30 second wall sit over the weekend and I really, really felt it the next day (and, admittedly, the day after that). More in-shape people I’m sure could do much longer wall sits, but I really hurt after just 30 seconds. My goal is to work toward being able to do a minute long sit. A wall sit, in case you have never heard of this, is basically doing a squat where you end up with your thighs parallel to the floor. The difference is that instead of coming back up, you hold it with your back against the wall for as long as possible.

I started the 100 push ups challenge as well this week to hopefully get my arms toned, and added tricep dips into the mix. I hate tricep dips, but that’s mostly because I haven’t been able to find a bench or step in the house that’s the right height yet. I have been using the couch, and that’s just not the right height.

Goals for Next Week

I didn’t get to work out 4 days this week though. I just ended up running out of time with unexpected work, then once everything got done I was felled by the migraine from hell. So, my goal for next week is to keep up with the points better from the mommy challenge, continue with the push ups challenge, and try to add in more of a core workout. Push ups and wall sits, calf raises, and tricep dips are great, but they’re doing nothing for getting my core in shape.

I would like to add in a daily walk. Usually my husband takes the dog for a walk, but I think I’m going to make it a daily family trip.

A challenge for next week is that a friend of mine is coming into town tomorrow and staying through Tuesday, then I’m going to central Texas for a wedding next weekend. I am going to give it all I have to stay on track and get my 4 days of exercise in.

Have a Fitness Friday blog post? Head over to the Fatty Friday post at Going Crazy, Wanna Go?! link up with us! 

Fitness Friday

It’s Fitness Friday again! To link your story up, head over to Going Crazy, Wanna Go? and take a look at her Fatty Friday post.

Fitness

March is here, and with that comes the 21 Day Mommy Blogger Challenge! I’m participating with Elizabeth from My This N That Life. This program works on a point system, which I have never used before. I’m excited to give it a shot, but more than that, I’m excited about getting in shape and getting my life back. I’m tired of being a blob.

I also joined this amazing Facebook accountability group called Leap Into Summer which was started by this awesome lady named Debra. She reasoned that there are 90 days between leap day this year and memorial day, so we are supposed to challenge ourselves to start summer off on a healthy note. This group is great because I’m  actually held accountable for things like sitting around and binging all day, cheered on when I’m discouraged, and praised when I actually manage to do a 50 second wall sit (have you tried those? My husband literally couldn’t do a 10 second one earlier). I actually got very brave and posted my measurements (including weight) up there. Now that I know an entire group of 134 people are watching me succeed or fail, I’m going to get to it.

Diet

I’m actually pretty proud of myself this week. We ate from home virtually every meal except Tuesday night when I had a meeting and two days ago when I decided that I wanted some french fries as a snack (fries was all I ordered though). I paid for it later with some fairly intense gastrointestinal distress that actually managed to keep me up one night. That’s great negative reinforcement at least.

Thursday night we made turkey burgers and topped it off with a green (or in our case, pinkish) smoothie for dessert. My husband was incredibly skeptical about this smoothie. He said that he shouldn’t have an issue with it because he eats salads all the time, so there wasn’t anything different about this really. He found it weird that it was in a smoothie form though, and was really hesitant to try it with me.

The anatomy of a green smoothie

I originally got the recipe from Pinterest. The recipe is:

1 banana

4 or 5 strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 small peach

1 heaping cup of spinach

1 tbs. Greek yogurt

2 tsp. honey

1/2 cup crushed ice

splash of vanilla soy milk

We modified this recipe slightly from the original Pinterest pin by adjusting the amount of the ingredients and leaving out the soy milk and honey. We used:

1 banana

6 strawberries because those are our favorite

1/2 cup of blueberries

1/2 of a large peach that had been peeled and chopped

2 tbs. Greek yogurt because we really like it

1 large handful of spinach leaves

1 cup crushed ice

This was the result:

Green smoothie. It's really more pink than green.

The entire contents of the blender fit into this glass, so if you make it like I did be sure to double the recipe. It looked really weird, but it tasted amazing! I really liked it. It tasted better to me than the ones we used to make with juice. I couldn’t taste the spinach at all.

My husband said he didn’t hate it, but his issue was that there was an obvious banana flavor. He doesn’t like banana, but agreed to let me put it in the smoothie because I don’t like peaches or blueberries and I let him put those in it.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that it was better than a big ol’ slice of chocolate cake or fresh baked cookies or anything, but in terms of smoothies, it is my favorite. I think the honey was probably used to make it sweeter, but to me, it really didn’t need it. My husband said that next time he wants to add some pineapple and possibly try a variation with some watermelon later.

If you decide to give it a try or have other green smoothie recipes, please let me know!

Goals for Next Week

I’m starting the 90 day Leap Into Summer challenge and the 21 Day Mommy Blogger challenge, so my goal is to work out at least 4 days next week and stay on track with the point system. I would like to try to find a source for grass fed beef and raw milk, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to.

I’m excited about losing some inches. I’m in need of new clothes, and it would be great if I could go shopping for clothes one or two sizes smaller.

Fitness Friday

Well we skipped right from one Fitness Friday installment to the next. Sorry about the lack of posts over the week. It has been insane lately!

Anyway, as you know my husband and I have been traveling (stay tuned for a blog post about it), and through that time I have done all I can to stay on track. I have to say that I feel like I’ve done an adequate job doing that. I ate a decent breakfast every morning, and managed to consume good quality protein while we were away. All of that plus the almost constant walking, some running, and standing means that I got in a good consistent amount of exercise as well.

Weight: No change. I’m not sure why, but I am glad it didn’t go back up!

Exercise: Lots more walking. Lots and lots of walking.

Diet: Ate out every day, but I tried to consume quality protein in the form of seafood and veggies. The only thing I didn’t get to do was make my green smoothie. I’m determined to make that this coming week. My husband is quite hesitant though.

Goals for next week: It occurred to me that I need to actually quantify and set specific goals. In doing so, I think I will hit specific targets instead of just doing general, broad things. A goal of mine is to make a green smoothie. This will get done! I want to take the dog on a 1.5-2 mile walk every day, and spend an hour every other day weight training. As for diet, I want to cook from home for every meal.

March is rapidly approaching, and with that comes the Mommy Blogger 21 Day Challenge with Elizabeth from My This N That Life. Thank you to everyone for keeping me accountable and pushing me toward my goals! If you have any tips, tricks, recipes, etc. feel free to leave them in comments, email, or Facebook me!

For the Fatty/Fitness Friday link up, go check out Going Crazy, Wanna Go?! and leave the link to your story. I want to help others as well!

Fitness Friday

I quickly realized that the middle of the week with Wordless Wednesday going on was not a good place to post my fitness accomplishments and setbacks. So, instead of Workout Wednesday, I’m installing Fitness Friday (because alliteration is all the rage in the blog world). I have to credit Janet from Going Crazy, Wanna Go? for the idea and guidance in putting this together.

Overview

It’s been a week full of setbacks, if I’m being completely honest. It really has. I’m working on a pretty large project outside of the blog that had me up really, really late every night and getting up early the next morning. This resulted in exhaustion, and honestly food was the first luxury to go because I was simply too exhausted to feed myself properly. To make matters worse, my husband was gone all week for work, which left me to single handedly take care of all the household responsibilities. I know that it shouldn’t matter whether or not he’s home, but the reality is that it’s easier because I can focus on one or two things and we can split up the responsibilities. Oh well, these things happen (is what I’m trying to tell myself).

Starting weight: To be revealed when I have reached my goal weight.

Starting measurements: Will also be revealed when I have hit my goals

Sleep: I averaged about 47 minutes of sleep per night from Monday to Friday this week (I know… I know).

Exercise: HA! Yeah, that’s a whole lotta none. Zip. Zilch. I didn’t even take the dog for a walk like I normally do. I just took her to a local dog park and let her run around.

Diet: If it wasn’t from a box or a grilled cheese sandwich, I didn’t eat it. I literally consumed zero vegetables.

Overall feeling: I feel fairly sluggish. This is probably due in part to the fact that I have eaten almost nothing but pure crap, but also in part to the sleeping pattern.

Goals for next week: My goal is to get more sleep, around 5-6 hours per night if I’m being at all realistic. I want to try a green shake/smoothie, and if I like it I’ll post the recipe, and work at least one vegetable into two meals per day.

I’m also doing the Mommy Blogger 21 Day Challenge with Elizabeth from My This ‘N’ That Life officially starting in March, so I’m excited about that as well. Have you seen Elizabeth’s before and during (I won’t say after because I don’t think she’s done yet) pictures? She looks amazing! Between Janet and Elizabeth, I have plenty of motivation!

For more Fitness Friday, go check out Fatty Friday at Going Crazy, Wanna Go? Tell her Andrea says hi!

Do you have any tips, tricks, or helpful hints? Let me know in the comments!

Fooducate iPhone App Review

I would like to (hopefully) introduce you to literally the most useful app on my iPhone, Fooducate.

What is Fooducate?

Food + educate = Fooducate. This is a FREE app for Android and iPhone, and it is designed so that the average person who goes grocery shopping can make more informed decisions by allowing you to scan the UPC barcode on a wide variety of products.

Here it is on my phone. I keep it next to the dirty dozen app so that I can keep myself organized at the grocery store.

Why I Like Fooducate: 

Fooducate is so simple in its design, it’s brilliant. I love it because one of the challenges with eating healthy is finding a diet that fits the modern world. For example, I have seen shake diets, diets where you are restricted to eating food that a certain company makes, and diets where you pop a magic pill that is designed to eliminate fat, and the list just keeps going. The problem that I have with most of those types of diets is that it sets up a situation in which you’re held hostage by these products in order to maintain your waistline. You’re thin and look great while on the products, but the minute you decide to switch back to eating real world food from the grocery store, or you want a piece of cake, bam! Twenty pounds added right back on.

Fooducate is great because it allows for making informed, healthy choices while working within real world grocery stores and food options. Its easy, at-a-glance system lets you know quickly whether an item is worth your money or not.

How Does It Work?

First, go to the store where you normally purchase your groceries. Take the bagel section on the bread isle in the following average store, for example.

Now, I am fully aware that bagels aren’t necessarily the best food choice as a whole. I know that bagels contain WAY too many carbs for one sitting, etc. But, on this particular day, I wanted a package of mini bagels to make bagel breakfast sandwiches for breakfast, and I figured this would be better than stopping by a fast food place on my way to work. But, how do I make at least a better bad decision? I fire up the Fooducate scanner.

I grab my favorite brand of bagel, and simply scan the code on it using the camera on the phone by lining up the barcode with the little box on the app. I need to say here that this UPC is not the actual bag of bagels I grabbed. The reason is because once the camera focuses on the barcode, it immediately scans it and getting a screenshot of the barcode in the box is very, very difficult. So, I decided to just go home and scan my carton of milk over and over again until I got a decent shot.

If your camera isn’t working for whatever reason, you can also manually type in the UPC in the box at the top (this can also be done on the website in case you don’t have an iPhone at all). What comes up is the familiar grading system that we all know and love. A is good, D is… not so good. So, after scanning my favorite brand of bagels that I normally purchase, I get this:

This gave me pause. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be an A+ or anything, but a C-? Really? Yes. This grade isn’t an arbitrary number the creators of Fooducate came up with to startle somebody into eating 100% organic 100% of the time. An explanation of how they evaluate food can be found here, on their blog. They take into account ingredients, amount of processing, and other factors to generate an easy-to-read grade. Tapping on the arrow on brings up a bunch of information while maintaining the at-a-glance set up.

It shows you exactly how many calories per serving, and where it falls on average. If you keep scrolling down, it tells you the main key points to watch out for in this product and how many food points it’s worth for people on a point diet system.

My favorite part of the app though is that it shows alternatives to the food item that was scanned. If you go back to the screen that you get right after you scan it (three pictures up), on the bottom right there is a button that says alternatives. What you get when you tap that is a list of suggestions so that if you choose to select a healthier bagel, you may.

The list displays alternatives that have grades all the way from a C+ to an A-. We looked for the A- option, but couldn’t find it in the store. We were able to find a B- option however, and we went home feeling good that we could still eat something that we liked! If you tap on the other options, the food information pops up about those as well so you can know exactly what you’re eating.

What Else Can Fooducate Do?

Fooducate has this handy menu that you access from the little checkered looking box at the top left corner. In many of the photos above, it has a little red 6 on it. This menu serves as a dashboard for the app.

From this dashboard, you can look at the last product that you scanned (product), read messages from Fooducate (messages), and go to the barcode scanner (find). Fooducate routinely offers fun giveaways for scanning certain products, so it’s prudent to check the messages from time to time. I obviously failed to as evidenced by the six messages, and missed some really great opportunities.

Next time, I'll be checking my inbox. Duh.

Under lists, you can see the history of the things that you scanned and if you sign in you can actually create shopping lists to make grocery shopping an in-and-out event.

The Healthy Me icon lets you look at the products you have scanned, and see where you fall on average with the rest of the Fooducate users that have scanned products. I really liked this function when I first got the app because I went around scanning everything in my house, and I went back and looked at the Healthy Me list and saw that I was way below average. For example, when I first did it, my grade was an average of a C+. I have brought my average up to a B+ after using this app. I figure if my goal is just to increase the average, it’ll help curb bad eating habits.

Daily Tips takes you to the Fooducate blog, where there are always new and interesting articles to read regarding food health and safety.

If you go back to the find icon and tap, it’ll take you to the barcode scanner. However, if you’re not scanning anything in particular, you can tap browse. The browse function displays a list of categories set up by food type.

If you keep scrolling down, tons of food types come up. Today I wanted to play around with breakfast foods, a category listed just a little further down the page. I tapped on it, and it came up with an even more specific list of breakfast choices.

Now I wanted to know what all was going on with cold cereals, so I clicked that:

and it brought up a list of the top graded cold breakfast foods in the breakfast category. The problem with this is that I don’t have a Publix near me, and I have never seen Simply Fiber in my grocery store at all. The issue was resolved when I went to the popular tab though.

Cheerios and Kashi are pretty popular, so that’s much more feasible for me to find at my local grocery.

Add Products to Fooducate

If you find yourself in a situation where you scanned your product, but you got this message:

it means you have the opportunity to help build the Fooducate library. I received this message when I scanned my Tropical Traditions coconut oil. I simply followed the directions on the Fooducate app, and when I was done taking all three pictures, it gave me the option to email it in.

They released their Fooducate Plus iPhone app as well, with a lot more features and no ads. This version does cost $3.99 and I don’t have it, so I’m not a good candidate to review it. I did want to mention it though in case you might be interested.

 

Conclusion:

The functionality of the Fooducate app is almost perfect. It is intuitive in its design and it allows me and my husband to make quick but correct (by our standards) decisions regarding our food selections. This app makes shopping a lot less of a hassle because I’m not standing there in the middle of the store holding two different types of bagels and trying to compare nutrition labels on the spot. Fooducate has already done that for me. Their website and blog are equally helpful because they are filled with tips and tricks to healthy eating and post pitfalls to avoid with tips on how to avoid them.

As far as I know, Fooducate isn’t sponsored by any of the big food corporations, so what you get is information that is updated as frequently as possible. Additionally, they are openly agains the big food corporations sponsoring the American Dietetic Association (you can also read updated information here).

This is definitely one of those ideas that I wish I had thought of a long time ago! What are your thoughts on the Fooducate app? Is this something you think you would use? What are your thoughts?

*This review is in no way sponsored by Fooducate. All opinions are 100% my own, and the content is 100% mine and not taken from anywhere else. The links to the Fooducate blog and website are the resources I used to create this review.*

Adventures in Homemade Deodorant Making Part 2

Armed with an opinion backed up by some amount of credible research, I went to the Passionate Homemaking blog and found a recipe.

6-8 TBS. coconut oil

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Any additional essential oils you’d like

It also told me to mix the powders, then add the coconut oil until I was happy with the consistency. Simple enough, but I didn’t have any of these materials. I went to Tropical Traditions and invested in some gold label virgin coconut oil because I knew I would use it quite a bit, not even really for the health reasons, but simply because I LOVE coconut. I ordered it so that it would arrive when my conventional stick ran out so that I wouldn’t have to miss a day (ew).

I had never heard of arrowroot powder because this being healthy and trying new things is new and completely foreign to me, so I opted for cornstarch. When the coconut oil arrived, I got to work. I mixed liquid coconut oil with the dry powders, and poured it into my old empty stick of conventional deodorant. This is what happened when I used it:

That, my friends, was uncomfortable. It only happened on one armpit though, strangely. Undeterred, I pressed forward and thought that maybe since my skin wasn’t used to any of those ingredients, it would take a few days to normalize and adjust. Well, the itchy red rash was as persistent as I was and just would not go away. I went back to the drawing board and adjusted the ratio of powders. Instead of a 1:1, I did 1:2 baking soda to cornstarch. That didn’t help.

Eventually, after a long while (we’re talking months) of hypothesizing and figuring out what I was reacting to, it occurred to me that it was probably the coconut oil. I was heartbroken.

Then it occurred to me that if I actually did some research on arrowroot powder, I might be able to use that instead of the cornstarch. So, I went to a neat spice store in my hometown and picked some up.

Arrowroot, in case you didn’t know, is a plant. It’s actually an herb that grows in tropical climates, and grows well in Florida. The plant is about 25% starch, and that gets extracted and is used as a food thickener. When I opened the bag, I noticed that it had a very faint but distinct aroma. It smelled quite good actually. After doing some reading, I found that you have to be careful when purchasing arrowroot powder because the extraction process can be harmful, and apparently it gets mixed with other types of starch so it’s not 100% pure arrowroot. Oh well, I’ll do better next time.

So, I gathered my empty deodorant container (the same one that I’ve been using for almost a year), arrowroot powder, coconut oil, a bowl, and baking soda:

I mixed about 6 TBS arrowroot powder with 3 TBS baking soda. I took a spatula and added about 5 TBS of coconut oil in its solid form. It’s important to note that coconut oil is solid at 76 degrees Fahrenheit and below, but right above that it melts. For example, it melts upon body contact because of your body heat.

I applied just a little bit of heat to get everything to go together better, but honestly it’s easier to tell what the consistency is if you just work the coconut oil in by hand in its solid state. Once I had it to where I wanted it, I poured it into my recycled deodorant container and let it set up.

I have had no reactions with the arrowroot powder formula. I really like this method, and it seems to be working a lot better. I read that most people react to the baking soda though, so my reaction to the cornstarch is something that I find strange.

The final product smells fresh and clean and actually not overly coconutty, and I didn’t use any additional oils. A little bit of this goes a long way, so use a light hand when applying this. If you put too much on, the coconut oil will run down your arm and be gooey. If you don’t use that much of it, it works out fine. I also suggest trying this out first on a weekend or on a day when you don’t actually have to go see anybody because trust me, you WILL be obsessively smelling your pits to make sure you aren’t stinking up the place. You probably will be smelling just fine, but it’s still good to check.

Since I have switched, I noticed that my clothes don’t end up stained anymore. The commercial deodorant was reacting with my sweat and creating this weird film that would just sit on my clothes, and eventually create all kinds of problems. No matter what I did it wouldn’t come out! This doesn’t happen with the homemade deodorant. It washes out clean and leaves no residue.

There are two main drawbacks though. I live on the Texas gulf coast, and it gets HOT here in the summer. If you’re going on a road trip and taking this with you, I suggest wrapping it up in an icepack or tossing it in a plastic baggy and putting it in a cooler. I have to admit that I probably would not take this on an airplane either without seriously bagging it up because it will melt en route. It isn’t as convenient as a toss-and-go commercial deodorant. I have read that this can be fixed by adding some beeswax to the recipe to firm it up, and that seems to work fine. Secondly, you will sweat with this. This is not an antiperspirant. Sweating is good though because it’s your body’s way of ridding itself of toxins and other impurities. If you wear an undershirt or don’t over-apply this, you will likely not have any issues.

As I mentioned above, essential oils can also be added for additional scents. I have heard of people using chamomile, melaleuca (also known as tea tree oil), rose, (clove (I’ve heard it has antiseptic properties but I think too much of this would burn but I’m not sure), lavender, and patchouli. I would like to get some beeswax and some oils and continue experimenting with this deodorant when this stick runs out.

So, even though there is lots of debate about these chemicals, I am choosing the fewer chemical route.

Have you made any homemade deodorant? Do you have any interest in it? What are your thoughts?

Adventures in Homemade Deodorant Making Part 1

Yeah... this is a chemical

This is a label from your average, traditional stick of deodorant. Aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex is used in many conventional deodorant/antiperspirants. It works because it blocks pores in your underarm area, thereby preventing sweating. Additionally, it supposedly binds with sweat and inhibit odors. There is great debate raging at the moment about whether or not this stuff is significantly harmful if used in any appreciable quantity. The problem for me is that you basically apply this material directly to your lymph nodes. More on this later.

This is a list of the inactive ingredients in that same stick of conventional deodorant. Petrolatum, aka petroleum jelly (think Vaseline), is a semi-solid white/yellow substance that is created from the fractional distillation of petroleum. Petrolatum use in cosmetics has been banned in the UK (unless the source can be proven free of toxins) because it has been found in breast tumors. Now, Vaseline has been around for a loooonnnggg time, and I’m not going to sit here and even try to pretend that I will never use Vaseline again. The problem for me is that I’m applying this stuff mere centimeters from my breast tissue. Basically everything in this list is a suspected carcinogen (but isn’t everything?), especially cyclopentasiloxane and fragrances.

Now back to the lymph node issue. Your lymph nodes belong to a vitally important component of your body called the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system’s job is to clean and detoxify, heal and aide in tissue regeneration, circulate hormones and antibodies, build and maintain a healthy, functioning immune system, and filter inorganic waste. It accomplishes this via a large network of vessels in your body.

At various points in your body, called lymph nodes, the lymph (the yellow fluid that circulates in the lymphatic system) gets filtered and bacteria, foreign objects, etc. get trapped there and antibodies against foreign invaders are manufactured and sent out to the circulatory system. There are lymph nodes in your neck, under your arms, and lots of other places. The white blood cells located there then clean up and dispose of these wastes that are delivered. Lymph node swelling is an indication of physical health because when your lymph nodes swell, your body is fighting a foreign invader. Even though the American Cancer Society says deodorants don’t cause breast cancer, I decided that if I could minimize the chemicals that might be absorbed into an area containing such important lymph nodes, I would try it. In my opinion, the research is incomplete at best as to whether or not the chemicals are being absorbed into our bodies and causing these cancers.

Wishing to try to reduce the amount of chemicals I applied directly the lymph node area of my body, I set out to make my own deodorant. Stay tuned for part two!