Charcoal is the New Black

I recently noticed the array of charcoal based and charcoal infused products on the market. When saw a Proactiv commercial with a charcoal bristled face cleansing brush over the weekend, I realized that charcoal has finally jumped the shark. Charcoal is gaining popularity lately for its deep cleaning and detoxification properties. In my own medicine cabinet, I have charcoal capsules, charcoal tooth powder, charcoal face mask goop, and even charcoal deodorant. Intrigued by the concept, I even tried a charcoal based kombucha. That particular yeasty, vinegar tinged, grayish elixir should only be consumed on a dare. Blah! Our water pitcher has a charcoal based filter and our air purifier has a charcoal pre-filter designed to remove odors from the air. The burning question (pun intended)… Does charcoal actually work? Well, aside from the charcoal kombucha, I’m definitely a fan. I take the charcoal capsules on a regular basis for the mild detox effects. The charcoal traps toxins in your system and helps you get rid of them rather than absorb them into your body. Charcoal capsules are not a new concept. I was taking them 20 years ago to mitigate hangover effects from a long nights out coupled with cheap booze. It definitely works! The impurities in the alcohol bind to the charcoal bits and don’t have a chance to wreck your precious weekend with a brutal hangover. These days, I take charcoal capsules to detox all the big city car exhaust, brake dust and other crap in the air I’m breathing. I buy the Bulletproof capsules, which are made from coconut shells, but there are a lot of good ones out there. Just be sure to check that they are all natural without any other ingredients and not made by Kingsford for your Weber grill. Also, you want charcoal that Is “activated”. By activated, it means that the charcoal has been processed at high heat, which makes it more porous and effective at trapping the nasties. You can actually break open the capsules to DIY a facial cleansing mask, add to your toothpaste, etc. I did that for awhile and then decided to just buy the dedicated products. The charcoal tooth powder is a fun one. Yeah, I’ve off-white teeth, maybe a tinge yellow. I definitely don’t have the sparkling pearly whites that you see on tv. Rather than using toxic tooth whitening products, the charcoal tooth powder is a natural alternative. While brushing with the charcoal tooth power, your teeth look like they time warped from 17th century Great Britain. After you rinse out the dark gray slurry, you teeth are smooth, shiny and a tad whiter. They continue to get brighter after several uses. I use the tooth powder a couple times a week after brushing with my regular toothpaste. The charcoal face mask that I use is a clay based one, so it is more like a mud mask then the ones you see people peeling off on commercials. The mask also works great. I use it about once a week. You put it on thick and wait 30 min for it to dry. It dries to a nice dark gray and tingles slightly. Warning: the face recognition on your phone will not work when you have the mask on. When you wash it off, your complexion will be noticeably brighter and will feel deep down clean. Smart phone facial recognition will also return to normal. I tend toward oily skin and this stuff works great to even me out and keep that complexion clear. The last product for today is the Primally Pure charcoal deodorant. This stuff is amazing. I’ve been using Primally Pure deodorants for 2 years and they have always exceeded my expectations. The charcoal deodorant is new to their line up and is my new fave. Obviously, this is a daily use product, but I don’t have to worry about any errant pit odor with their products. Not even after a hot yoga class. All good!
Any interesting charcoal products you have used or would recommend trying? I’m game!

Fun fact: Old St Nick gives out coal to the bad kids and charcoal to the good kids ūüôā

Charcoals
Charcoals
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Feeling Joovvy

The Joovv is up and running!

Unboxing/ Set up

Very easy to set up‚Ķ well packaged, super high quality machine.¬† I’m relieved that it doesn’t look like something I cobbled together in the basement.¬†¬†From the photos online, I expected it to be silver, but it’s white.¬† White goes better with the walls anyway!¬† There was a little Joovv branded timer with a handy magnet on the back that I didn‚Äôt expect.¬† Bonus!¬† The set-up literally took 5 minutes with no tools needed.¬† You screw the stainless tension lines to the top threaded posts, connect a carabiner to the lines, slide the mounting peg over the top of the door and clip the pulley carabiner to that and clip the rope carabiner to the tension line carabiner.¬† Easy Peasy.¬† What‚Äôs the pulley for, you may ask?¬† Well, it is so you can use the Joovv at different heights to treat your whole body.¬† I may swap the black pulley rope for a white one just so it doesn‚Äôt look so out of place.¬† My eye goes right to the rope and it’s driving me crazy aesthetically.¬† Don‚Äôt worry, I‚Äôll get over it ūüôā Also, with the pulley contraption in place, I‚Äôm starting to see the benefit of the larger Joovv Max and not having to adjust height. I still can‚Äôt get over the price difference between Joovv Original and Max, though.¬† For now, my power cable routing looks a little temporary and awkward, but I‚Äôll eventually find a more permanent place for the Joovv and mount it to a wall with a more streamlined layout.¬† That is, if results come in as expected.¬†

1st Use

Holy F the Joovv is bright! Much, much brighter than I expected.  It has a nice warming effect on the body as well.  There are little fans that you can hear whirring inside the case to keep the machine cool. The digital timer they included with the Joovv works great and the display is easy to see.  I just did a 5 min treatment sans shirt… and pants.   I have some sinus congestion right now from all the crazy weather fluctuations. Maybe the Joovv will give some relief? Treatment results are supposed to come after 8-12 weeks of sessions, but fingers crossed to see positive results sooner.  Today was a test, only a test. 

1st Actual Use

Now I‚Äôve had time to read through the Starter Guide.¬† Based on my goals, I did a full body treatment.¬† 7 min front, 7 min back, 3 min each side.¬† I listened to a Ben Greenfield podcast to kill the time.¬† While Joovving, I was also thinking of different ways to multitask and get more benefit.¬† I did some alternate nostril breathing when my back was being treated, then box breathing when my frontal regions were in the light.¬† I may also incorporate an earthing mat to stand on during treatment.¬† I also took some ‚Äúbefore‚ÄĚ pics today so I can measure physical results.¬† I’ll keep those to myself unless there is some dramatic improvement.

Upcoming Joovv topics:

My Daily Regimen

Short Term Results

That’s all for now.¬† In the mean time, keep calm and Joovv on!

Joovv Glow
Joovv Hallway Glow

The Gong Show

This weekend we went to our 2nd gong bath.¬† It was at one of the studios we attend regularly, Tejas Yoga Studio in Chicago’s south loop.¬† For those not familiar with a gong bath, it is a meditative experience where you lie still on your mat (just like savasana) and listen to the sound of gongs.¬† Often times, there are other instruments/ sounds mixed in and at its high point, it is very loud.¬† It’s much more musical than you would think, almost like a concert.¬† You’re welcome to use any props to make your experience most comfortable as you are laying still for quite a while (this one was about an hour and fifteen minutes).

My first gong bath experience was also at Tejas with the same gong facilitator.¬† But, my two experiences were very different.¬† During the first one, I felt I was in a very meditative state – you know that feeling you get in a deep savasana where you are pretty much out of it?¬† At points I was sure I was levitating and, during peak moments, I saw waves of colors swirling over and around me.¬† I know this sounds a bit woo-woo, but just think of it like a weird, deep dream.¬† During the second one, this past weekend, I mainly felt anxious during it.¬† No colors, no floating off the floor.¬† I felt really nervous during the first part and I just couldn’t relax and concentrate on my breath.¬† After a while, frustration crept in and I was aware of any cough, sneeze, or movement from others nearby.¬† The time still went by quickly, but when it was over, I just thought “huh – that was weird” instead of feeling light and rested like I did with the first one.

Chuck and I recapped our experiences on the ride home and they were very similar.¬† We wondered why we both felt anxious with this one and blamed each other for putting off negative energy as the cause.¬† But, really, there are probably a variety of reasons.¬† Maybe a bunch of people in the room did have negative energy affecting it? It was a¬†Friday¬†night right after work.¬† Our position in the room?¬† Expectations from the first time? We did an hour of gentle yoga prior to the going bath that we didn’t do last time – maybe that contributed? Time of year? It is cold AF right now.¬† Political climate and our current “leader” maybe adds a new level of universal stress?

Chuck mentioned his experience to James (one of Teja’s owners) at yoga today to see how his experience compared with ours. James said he had to sit up at one point into a seated position because of the intensity of the gongs, but overall he had a positive experience.¬† I think that just like yoga, each person’s experience is going to be different based on you – with some level of influence from your environment (in this case, the immediate room that day).¬† Nonetheless, it’s a really unique and cool meditative experience to try – we’ll see what the next one brings!

Gong Bath-1

 

#Joovvgoals

We just received our eagerly anticipated Joovv light yesterday!¬† As excited as I am to try it, my Joovv¬†is still sitting in the box because I wanted to document my outrageous goals for this device before I get distracted and forget what they are.¬† Quick background…¬†I spent over a week researching infrared saunas, then red light therapy.¬†I watched endless videos and listened to the podcasts.¬†¬†In the end, the Joovvv¬†light came out on top for me.¬† From the online testimonials, people love it and seemingly can‚Äôt live without it.¬† ¬†The Joovv has the endorsement of some highly respected doctors, trainers, bloggers, bio-hackers and we had friends use Joovv lights at RUNGA¬†2017 in Panama.¬† It also has a 60 day return policy, so I‚Äôm going to put it through the paces for the next 60 days and see which of my goals are realized.¬† I chose the Joovv Original with the Combo red light and UV.¬† We do have a steam sauna in our condo building, so I thought the red light, UV and being able to add in the steam sauna to the mix would be really good for health and recovery.

Joovv Waiting to be Unboxed

So, why did I buy this and what am I hoping to achieve?

Chuck’s Joovv Goals

-Quicker muscle recovery

-Improved energy levels

-Hair regrowth (please!)

-Improved skin tone and complexion

-Getting rid of Excalibur once and for all (this will be explained at a later date)

-Improved eyesight (in my mid 40‚Äôs and near vision is getting further away. Maybe a reduction in ‚Äúfloaters‚ÄĚ as a bonus)

-I‚Äôll probably shine it on my balls ‚ÄúBen Greenfield style‚ÄĚ just to see what all the hype is about.¬† By “probably”, I meant definitely.

For what it’s worth,¬†I paid full retail for the Joovv light and they have no idea that I‚Äôm blogging about the results.¬†I’ll be adding to the following topics as they happen!

Unboxing/ Set up

1st Use Impressions

My Daily Regimen

How It is Going… Positives, Negatives?

Overall Results

Stay tuned!!

Introducing “The Weirds”

Wow wow wow! It is our 5 year anniversary or living a Paleo lifestyle. I’m happy to report that Paleo principles work and I truly feel better than I ever have.¬† I feel stronger, healthier and more alive than I did 10 years ago.¬† I even look younger now than I did in 10 yr old photos. It is so crazy the changes that clean eating and living can make.¬†¬†Rene and I have come a long way in the past 5 years.¬† Things that are just a normal part of our daily routine, I would have scoffed at and poked fun at before.¬† When I look at fond Facebook memories from 6-10 years ago, I see a clueless ball of inflammation having an absolute blast eating deep fried Mac and cheese bites washed down by a flight of craft beer.¬† We originally started our Paleo journey when Rene was diagnosed with MS in 2013.¬† I am ecstatic to report that she has been largely symptom free and 100% prescription drug free ever since following the Wahls Protocol. For me, I have been extremely busy between real estate, photography and amateur bio-hacking.¬† So…. the blog has been dormant for far too long.¬† For the rest of 2018, we are making an effort to help others out with their health and wellness journeys.¬† We will be looking back over the past 5 years and writing about what has worked, what we have learned and what we can’t live without.¬† Also fun will be to explore the products and protocols that didn’t make it into our routines.¬†

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to “The Weirds”.¬† We will be delving into topics like dry skin brushing, PEMF therapy, muscle testing, organ meats, Bulletproof Coffee, detoxing your home, charcoal tooth powder, gong baths, earthing, sleep, meditation, podcasts/ resources, EMF testing, structured water, deodorant, squatty potty, skin care, cupping, traveling, cold therapy, myofacial release, toe spacers, bentonite clay, electro muscular stimulation, oil pulling, digital detox, red light therapy, water filtration, the Human Charger, meal prep tools, favorite foods/ snacks, supplements and tons of other stuff!

At Universal Studios CA with our Minion, of course.

Dispenser Hack – Bulletproof Brain Octane

Brain Octane - Bulletproof

Hack is a strong word for this, but it sounded cool. It’s actually just an improvement. I’ll spare you from the build-up and history, but it is below if you would like to read on…

The annoying problem with the 32 oz bottles of Bulletproof Brain Octane is the drip that comes down the side and makes a mess on the counter. I contacted Bulletproof to see if they sold a better dispenser bottle or a pump, but no luck. I searched far and wide to find a solution to my oily counter. Amazon to the rescue! The best option I found was a small pump that actually screwed perfectly onto the top of the bottle. Perhaps the bottles are made by the same manufacturer? Also, the serving size for Brain Octane is 1 teaspoon. What luck! This pump dispenses exactly one teaspoon and is only $4.98! The odd thing, it is a dispenser pump for bottles of Liquid Glucosamine… for dogs. Here is a link. Canine connection aside, my only question is if the pump is BPA free like the Brain Octane bottle. It works beautifully, though. Hopefully I can get the BPA question answered, but, until then, my counter is drip free! Hey Dave – let’s sell some pumps!

History:
We first tried Brain Octane in Austin Texas at Paleo f(x) 2015. Dave Asprey gave a great talk, so we stopped by the Bulletproof booth in the vendor fair to chat. Great guy, great info and very passionate about his Bulletproof products. We had been making our own version of Bulletproof coffee at home with regular coconut oil and (sometimes) grassfed butter. Delicious and gives you a nice brain jumpstart for the day. At Pf(x), we learned about medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT) and how it is more effective than just coconut oil. We tried Brain Octane and really noticed a difference in alertness and sharpness. No downside to it, except the price! You can read about Brain Octane here… http://www.bulletproofexec.com/bulletproof-upgraded-brain-octane/. ¬†Back to work!

Stitch Fix Box Number 11

You win some, you lose some. Last month I raved about box number 10, but this month didn’t have as many keepers. Only 1 item was saved from the return bag. No bigs. I expect this to happen from time to time and it helps your stylist understand what you like or how your preferences might be changing. After 11 fixes, I am still¬†super excited to see that brown and blue box sitting in my lobby. Let’s get down to bizness:

Fate: Gabby Mesh Detail Blouse Р$48.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

This was a cute shirt and I loved the detail on the top. ¬†I’m always looking for good layering tops to pair with blazers and sweaters or wear on their own. ¬†I thought this one was just a little bit too sheer and it was also snug across the chest and waist. ¬†I would have preferred it¬†to look more loose and flowy at the bottom.

White Shell 1

Kut From The Kloth: Aberdine Straight Leg Jean Р$88.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

I’ll admit that “WTF” was the first thought I had when I pulled these out of the box. ¬†I still thought that when I initially tried them on. ¬†The size was listed as an ankle. ¬†Was it supposed to be like a capri fit or a normal, regular fit? ¬†It was neither. ¬†I didn’t quite like where the length hit. ¬†Also, the color was quite similar to the distressed pair of jeans I kept from my last fix and I really didn’t need another pair of medium rinse jeans. ¬†I’ll also admit that they did sort of grow on me. ¬†They were super comfortable and fit pretty perfectly (unblemished track record, stitch fix!). ¬†The next day I saw a pair almost exactly like them on Anthropologie. ¬†Maybe this length is the new style.

Jeans Blog

Gilli: Kadence Cowl Drape Front Dress Р$64.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

This dress made me feel like I was getting ready to go sing in the church choir. ¬†It just looked too conservative and matronly on me. ¬†I did not like where the length hit either. I’d rather have it be above the knee (maybe at the knee) or a midi length. ¬†Right under the knee is not a good look on me, especially since I’m on the shorter side.

Dress 1

Zad: Val Chandelier Earring Р$28.00.  Status:  KEPT

These earrings are cute and match my style. I don’t think I would have normally paid $28 for these. ¬†Since I didn’t keep anything else from this fix and the $20 styling fee is credited back if you purchase any items, it made sense for me to keep these. ¬†In my mind, this math made them $8. ¬†I’ve never been good at math, so that may or may not make sense. I later noticed that these looked like the same earrings crazy Kelsey was wearing on the Bachelor: After the Final Rose. ¬†After googling I found that they are different (phew!)

earrings blog

Honey Punch: Renoir Kimono Р$44.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

This was a piece I requested specifically in my last note to my stylist. ¬†I saw some really cute ones and pinned them to my style board on Pinterest (which your stylist can refer to). ¬†I should have been more specific because I wanted a multi color, patterned or floral one. ¬†Since I am in black/white/gray 99% of the time, I can see why I was sent this one. I’d rather have one I could wear with black to spice up an outfit. ¬†I wasn’t a big fan of the stark black and white and I’m kind of over chevrons.

Kimono Blog

That’s it for March! ¬†How have your fixes been lately? ¬†I love reading other blogs, so leave links to your most recent reviews in the comments if you have one!

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Needle Nose

I’ve lived with¬†recurring sinus congestion for as long as I can remember. ¬†After some fancy web research, I discovered it is known as chronic sinusitis. I was really hoping that the cure of all my previous ills, the Paleo lifestyle, would take care of it. ¬†But, after two years of Paleo, I’ve found the one thing that a clean diet didn’t fix for me. ¬†Stupid nose. ¬†Anyway, my sinus congestion acts a lot like allergies, but it is a year round problem and most predominant at night. ¬†Basically, either one or both nostrils are totally blocked and it turns me into a mouth breathing, drooling mess. ¬†Sorry Rene.

On nights when it is really bad, I get all claustrophobic and end up sitting¬†until I can nod off from sleep deprivation. An over the counter spray is a quick fix, but I’m nervous about warnings of a “rebound effect”. ¬†If the nasal spray is used for too many treatments in a row, it becomes ineffective at treating the problem and you end up with worse symptoms than when you started. ¬†That scenario makes me sweat just thinking about it. ¬†I found Afrin and Nostrilla to work equally well, but my preference is Nostrilla… strictly for the name. ¬†Unfortunately, ¬†it’s not a natural solution and isn’t a permanent fix.

I also tried a Neti pot for a couple months. ¬†Decent results, but the results were only temporary, sometimes not even lasting the night. ¬†Still there is something fun, and gross, about streaming warm water from one nostril to the other¬†that I really enjoy. ¬†I even upgraded to a super cool looking¬†stainless steel Neti pot. ¬†It’s really a beaut, I just wish it was the problem solver. ¬†I do think the Neti is a good way to clear out those seasonal allergies, so I will keep it in the arsenal.

Next up was the Breathe Right strips. ¬†These things didn’t stand a chance against my sinusitis. ¬†I tried the strips for a few nights and there was really no relief other than the comforting feeling of having a¬†splint plastered across my nose. ¬†Look weird, feel weird, didn’t work. ¬†That got me thinking and researching some more. ¬†What if there was something like a Breathe Right for the inside of your nose? ¬†Lo and behold, there is! ¬†It’s called SleepRight. ¬†These expand your nostrils from the inside and provide better airflow. ¬†They kind of pinch a little in the middle, but they offered some good relief. ¬†Not perfect breathing, but at least these worked a bit. ¬†I did find myself inadvertently picking at them in the middle of the night, just as you might subconsciously pick at any foreign object jammed in your nostrils. ¬†These little gems worked well, but there was still congestion higher up in the sinuses that the SleepRight just couldn’t reach. ¬†I just thought of this, but I may have to try a SleepRight/ BreatheRight combo. ¬†Whoa… mind blown. ¬†I may have to give that a proper test!

Anyway, one evening at yoga, ¬†I overheard a classmate talking about her experience with acupuncture. ¬†She was saying how it released a lot of histamines and helped clear up her allergies. ¬†Hmmm… maybe this could work for my breathing. ¬†I did a few personal tests with acupressure points around my nose and decided to move forward with an acupuncture session. ¬†At my fellow yogi’s referral, I made an appointment to see Dr Nick Leroy from the Illinois Center for Progressive Health (www.drnick.net). ¬†He is a holistic physician and has been practicing acupuncture for over 15 years. ¬†He knows his stuff! Dr Nick asked a lot of good questions during the consult and we decided on a course of five acupuncture treatments. ¬†I just completed the fourth treatment. ¬†The treatments last about 30 minutes with 2 needles in each foot, 2 in each hand, 2 in each ear and 5 on my nose and face. ¬†The ear needles freaking hurt going in, the others you hardly know are there. ¬†At the end of the session, I feel really relaxed and my breathing is very clear. Results from the first couple of treatments only lasted a few days, but now they are lasting longer. ¬†So far, so good. ¬†No waking up in the middle of the night and having fairly free breathing has been a really nice change. ¬†I’m thinking this is a good solution for me, but I’ll update results after another month.

Pricked
It was a perilous selfie to take with the needles sticking out of my hand

 

Stitch Fix Box Number 10

I can’t believe this is my 10th Stitch Fix box! ¬†I must say that this has been my favorite box yet. ¬†I loved everything in it, the price points were fairly reasonable and I only sent back two items because they were similar to pieces I already own. ¬†For a recap on Stitch Fix and how it works, check out my first post here. Alright, here’s what I received:

Bay to Baubles: Ramona Arrow Pendant Necklace Р$28.00.  Status:  KEPT

I love this necklace. ¬†I had been wanting a longer, plain and versatile pendant. ¬†This one fit the bill. ¬†It is three dimensional which is unique and looks like a feather and an arrow. ¬†It was featured on one of Stitch Fix’s Valentine’s Day outfit blogs.

01

Pink Martini: Cyra Blazer Р$94.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

This was a cute blazer, but I have a black one almost exactly like it. ¬†And a gray one and a white one… I liked that this one was a bit more casual and it was pretty comfy. ¬†Alas, back it went.

Blazer 1

Skies are Blue: Cassandra Cut Out Detail Sleeveless Blouse- $48.00.  Status:  KEPT

This is a great layering top or it can be worn on it’s own. ¬†It’s business in the front and party in the back with the cute cutout details. ¬†I liked the color and think this will also be great paired with white capris in the summer. ¬†Keeper!

cutout blouse

Eight Sixty: Matteo Sheath Dress Р$88.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

This is a really nice sheath dress, but I do have a black one really similar to it. ¬†It’s hard to tell, but the cut around the top of the arms/ shoulders goes in a little bit and I didn’t love that, although it wasn’t really a big deal. ¬†It’s a nice material and has a cute zipper down the back. ¬†I just didn’t need another plain black work dress, so back it went.

black dress

DL1961: Mitzi Distressed Boyfriend Jean Р$98.00.  Status:  KEPT

My new favorites! ¬†Every pair of jeans I’ve received from Stitch Fix have fit like a dream. I don’t know how they do it. ¬†These are no exception. ¬†I love the boyfriend style and the fun, distressed look. ¬†It’s something I probably wouldn’t have picked out myself. ¬†What I really loved about them is that the holes don’t go all the way through. There is material sewn behind them so I knew they wouldn’t “tear” further and are they are super comfortable. ¬†These went right into my closet¬†even as Chuck said “you really need another pair of jeans?” ¬†Yes.

Jeans

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