Charcoal is the New Black

I recently noticed the array of charcoal based and charcoal infused products on the market. When I saw a Proactiv commercial with a charcoal bristle 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¬†brand 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 Dental Duty charcoal tooth powder is a fun one. Yeah, I have “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, your teeth are smooth, shiny and a tad more white. 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 Fine Vine charcoal face mask that I use is clay based, so it is more like a mud mask then the fancy clay masks 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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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.

RPM Steak – Paleo Date Night Review

I’ve mentioned previously¬†that we don’t go out to eat all that often anymore. ¬†It’s difficult to find restaurants with gluten free, paleo options that we trust. ¬†This weekend, though, we had an amazing dining experience at RPM Steak right here in Chicago. ¬†Winner, winner, grass fed meat dinner!

RPM Steak has been quite the hot spot since it opened last year.  Co owners Bill and Guiliana Rancic have created a beautiful dining venue in the heart of River North that is attracting foodies, celebrities and even President Obama who dined there last October.  If you want to get a table on a weekend, you can expect to wait months for a reservation.  On a whim, I searched on open table Saturday afternoon. An 8:30pm table for 2 popped up  РWHAT?!  Before I knew it, we were dressed in our finest impromptu date night attire and an uber taxi was whisking us up Dearborn.

The restaurant itself is beautiful. ¬†It’s has an open concept, but the darker colors and wood tones keep it comfortable, yet swanky. ¬†If you’ve been to RPM Italian, it’s almost the inverse of their bright white, but just as sleek. ¬†They were running slightly behind, so we headed to the four-sided open bar. There are booths that flank three sides and people sitting and standing about 2 rows deep all around the bar. ¬†It was crowded, but does that matter when you’re there to be IN the scene? ¬†I didn’t think so. ¬†We ordered a glass each of the Sonoma County, CA Complicated Chardonnay to start. ¬†The bar area started to thin out a tiny bit when our table was ready around 9pm.

Find the Hidden Red Shoe - It's Good Luck!
Find the Hidden Red Shoe – It’s Good Luck!

We sat down and were presented with the gluten free menus (which I requested in the reservation). There is really not that much difference with the regular menu as their gluten free menu is huge and impressive.  We were then greeted by our AMAZING server, Chrissy (or Krissy?  sorry!) who told us she is Celiac and we can rest assured that they take gluten free seriously.  Chrissy then sent over one of their five sommeliers to help us navigate the extremely extensive wine list.  Once that order of business was complete, we turned our attention back to the dinner menu.  We decided on:

Appetizers

  • Oysters: ¬†Sourced from the west coast – you get 6 for $18. ¬†These were some of the best oysters I’ve had. ¬†They come topped with a very light sort of ceviche relish that included jalapeno, cucumber, lemon and lime juice. ¬†I would go back and just order these with a glass of champs!
  • Thick cut bacon: ¬†Chrissy told us this dish is life changing and she was right. ¬†It had a nice sweet maple glaze and in a way, it reminded me of french toast – it was that thick!
RPM Thick Cut Maple Bacon
Apps from Heaven

 

Main Course

  • 20 oz. Grass Fed¬†Bone in Ribeye (sourced from Slagel Farms): ¬†Even though there is a bone in it, this steak is HUGE! ¬†I thought¬†Chuck would definitely be bringing some home, but he powered through and ate the whole thing. ¬†I had a bite and it was seasoned perfectly and very juicy. ¬†He also ordered the butter and bone marrow sauce to complement it.
  • 8 oz. Grass Fed Bison Filet (sourced from High Plains): ¬†I expect bison to be leaner than other meats and it was, but was still full of flavor and tender. ¬†This was a generous, thick cut portion and as much as I wanted to finish it, I did have to give Chuck my last few bites (which he ate on top of his 20 oz. without a problem ūüôā )

Sides

  • Hen of the Woods Mushrooms: ¬†You don’t often see these on a menu and they are Chuck’s favorite mushroom, so we had to get them. ¬†They had a delicious woody flavor, as you’d expect, and were just divine. ¬†The serving dish didn’t move far from Chuck’s setting and I had to strategically grab some while he was busy chewing.
  • Roasted Cauliflower: ¬†Sounds boring, but it’s one of our staple, cruciferous vegetables. ¬†This was like no cauli I’ve had before. ¬†The¬†roasted florets were very soft and came in a very light tomato type of sauce with lime. ¬†Sounds odd, but it worked really well.

RPM Steak hit it out of the park for us on all counts: ¬†food (with bonafide paleo options), service and¬†ambience. ¬†It is also a bonus that it is part of the Lettuce Entertain You group of restaurants. ¬†We had¬†some gift cards that we¬†were able to use which softens the blow when the check comes. ¬†It is spendy, but it is worth checking out. ¬†Don’t forget to request Chrissy as your server – she is the best! Thank you RPM Steak for an awesome¬†date night!

Surprise! Chef Josh “Live” – Kitchfix in our Kitch

Before we were Paleo, we’d eat out or order food at least 5 nights of the week. These days it is a big deal if we go out once or twice a month. There is so much involved in going out now like researching menus ahead of time, worrying about cross contamination and hoping the wait staff truly knows what dietary restrictions mean. Now that we cook so often, we’ve really honed our skills. Because we use high quality ingredients, we often find that we prefer our own food to a restaurant. In spite of all of this, Chuck said we were going out to dinner on my birthday last month. He wouldn’t give me any details, but assured me it was completely Paleo compliant. We are very strict with diet so I was really curious and excited.

I came home after work and patiently waited for him to finish a real estate showing in our building so we could head out. I was sitting at our kitchen island drinking a cup of bone broth when he got back. Then, I noticed that Chef Josh Katt was walking in behind him. I recognized him as the chef behind Kitchfix, a service that delivers pre-made food including Paleo friendly options. We order from them every single week and had met Josh before. ‚ÄúWeird‚ÄĚ I thought, ‚Äúwas his showing with Josh Katt?!‚ÄĚ That‚Äôs when Josh said ‚ÄúHey! I‚Äôm going to be cooking for you tonight!‚ÄĚ Shut the front door! This was totally a dream come true. You cavemen and women know that preparing Paleo meals day after day can get tedious and laborious. I‚Äôve always wanted someone to just come over and cook me dinner without having to worry about any part of it. Chuck hit this one out of the park! After freaking out, I swapped my dress for comfy clothes and my bone broth for red wine. Although Josh said we could sit at the table and he‚Äôd serve us, we opted to remain at the island. That way we could all talk together and watch him create a 3 course masterpiece. He pulled out tons of ingredients that he brought and started cooking. It was amazing. Our menu consisted of:

First Course ‚Äď Seared scallops with chorizo and bacon crumbles

CJK First Course

Second Course ‚Äď Lamb chops, brussel sprouts, micro-greens and a perfectly spicy sauce

CJK Main Course

Third Course ‚Äď Pumpkin cr√®me brulee in a pumpkin garnished with strawberries, pomegranate, diced¬†apple and bacon.

CJK Pumpkin Creme Brulee_

Chef Josh also left us with a box of their Kitchfix cookies (delicious!) and gave us some of their Kitchfix Paleo granola (which you can find at many Mariano’s grocery stores around the city!) Thank you, Chuck, for making my birthday so special and for always knowing just what I want (or need). Thank you, Chef Josh, for taking the time to cook for us. Your food is amazing and we had the best night!

For those of you who live in the Chicago area and want to try Kitchfix yourself, here is our referral link.

We’d love to know what you think!

Cuckoo for Coco-Jack

This is one of the things you never knew you needed. ¬†My particular story¬†started in the Whole Foods produce area. ¬†I saw a girl comparing two of those white coconuts, one in each hand, and I couldn’t help but ask what she was doing. ¬†She nicely explained that they are young coconuts, full of coconut water. ¬†They are pricey at $2.99, so she was trying to figure out which was heavier to¬†get the best value. ¬†Packaged coconut water is more expensive and there are always concerns with additives or BPA in the packaging. A fresh coconut¬†seems like a great way to get coconut water directly from the source, right? ¬†Well, after trying to hack one open with a cleaver, I can see how the packaged stuff has its place and its price. ¬†Is fresh coconut water worth a trip to the emergency room? ¬†Hmmmm, I pondered this but still continued to open coconuts the only way I knew how… brute force. ¬†I must admit, there is something primal and fun about my method. ¬†But, there was an increasingly worried look on Rene’s face every time I assured her that I knew what I was doing. ¬†That encouraged¬†me to scour YouTube for a better solution. ¬†That, friends, is the day I found Coco-Jack. ¬†I ordered one up for myself and also got one for my dad (makes a great gift!). ¬†The Coco-Jack is simply amazing. ¬†Why the heck didn’t I think of this? ¬†It’s cool, works perfectly and has made opening young coconuts a super fun spectacle of wonderment. ¬†The Coco-Jack is simple. ¬†Basically, it is a mallet and a leverage device. ¬†You hammer the circular part of the device into the top of the coconut and push down on the handle part. ¬†The leverage pops the top of the coconut into a little round lid. ¬†You can go Gilligan’s Island style and pop in a straw the top or, for you sophisticates, pour the coconut water into the wine glass of your choice. ¬†I’ve been getting about 2 cups of water out of each coconut. ¬†I saved the best part for last… They also came up with a little scooper tool that lets you get all the coconut meat out without smashing the shell open. ¬†Again, genius idea! ¬†I was pretty pumped about this, so I contacted Coco-Jack. ¬†They were nice enough to provide a Coco-Jack discount code for our readers.

Use code “MePaleo” at check out and get a whopping 10% off of your purchase!

Here are some technique videos for your viewing pleasure.  This thing is great!  Cheers!

Getting Jacked
Getting Jacked

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