Dear Skin, how much do I love thee? And how much do I spend? @katscapades #health #beauty #skincare

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@katscapades is back and this time she’s getting up close and personal with her skin! So read on and don’t forget to follow her blog too!

I’m one of the billion people who spend money on skincare products. My spending habit from five years ago is vastly different from how much I invest now when it comes to taking care of the largest organ of my body. I’m grateful that my parents passed on the good skin genes and I’ve always wanted to maintain it, more so, improve it. Who wouldn’t want a healthy and younger looking skin all the time?!

I’m not denying that I also went through the stage of break-outs and unhealthy looking skin during some periods of my life.  Ergo, I was also one of the billion people victimised by aggressive marketing campaigns on skincare products – which actually did more harm than good at times – not just my skin but also my budget!  Glad the skin cells regenerate every 7 days (according Standford School of Medicine) and thank God I’ve got a job to recover my unwise-impulsive-skincare-shopping-habit – that’s learning it the expensive way!

Over time, I’ve realised that the importance of a healthy-looking skin goes a lot deeper. Reading various articles also helped me discover and rediscover facts about skincare. Dedicated to everyone who’d been asking me about my skincare secrets and to all my readers out there, I’m more than happy to share (publicly as I’ve been sharing a lot via private messages, skype and chitchats over a cup of green tea) the things I use and do and most importantly, how I prioritise my budget when it comes to my skincare expenditures.

So I’ve created a skincare spend-o-metre starting from the highest to the lowest:

SPENDING LEVEL: HIGH

1. Kitchen Machines

a. JUICER. About five years ago, I didn’t care that we had an existing juicer at home and I had no idea what joy it could bring into my life back then.  However, as I moved to France with my husband and learned the importance of juicing along the way.  I initially bought a juicer for just under a €100 and now investing into a €400+ Hurom Slow Juicer. My skin benefited a lot from juicing fresh vegetables and fruits and my juicer has been one of the busiest machines in my kitchen.

Frequency of Spending: Twice – one for my previous juicer and one for the slow juicer.

b. In-home alkaline water ionization technology . Actually this came into our home first before the juicer. “Drinking plenty of Alkalized water will maintain the pH of our bodies neutral, between a healthy range of 6.8 to 7.8, ideally 7.4. This neutral pH, not acidic-not too alkaline, prevents our immune system from malfunctioning or getting weaker and prevents diseases developing and keeps it strong and healthy” (click here for the source). To put it simply, healthier body = healthier skin. After careful research and consideration, we chose Kangen by Enagic USA but this machine comes with a huge price tag (you may want to close your eyes like we did when filling up the order form and handed the payment!).

Frequency of Spending: Once in a lifetime (filters have to changed yearly though)

 2. Fruits and vegetables.

You’ll probably notice that it’s cheaper to buy a big pack of Haribo Gold Bears or Doritos rather than a 100g of blueberries-rich-in-antioxidants or a bag of vit-c-filled-oranges for snacks; it’s cheaper to fry pork chops or grab those processed foods rather than making your own pesto sauce or making a hearty salad with the 5-a-day component. If I have €20 in my pocket and drop by at the mini supermarket, I could easily fill my shopping basket with junk with that amount versus going green – but I’d rather not. Fruits and veggies can also be used for some D.I.Y. skincare treats at home such as the famous diminishing-dark-circle-around-the-eye cucumber and avocado-super-face-mask to name a few (but to be honest, I haven’t done one in a long time since I love eating or juicing them!).

Buying organic produce also brings these green love goodies on this high spend-o-metre level. But trust me, it’s worth it.

Here are the usual fruits and veggies that I incorporate in my daily diet which are good for the skin: spinach, avocado, lemon, banana, cucumber, carrots, oranges and the following depends on their availability: berries, broccoli, mangoes, tomatoes and sweet potato.

Frequency of Spending: Daily.

3. Good exercise outfit.

I strongly believe that when you like what you’re wearing, you exercise better. Sports bra, running shoes and others to complete the fitness outfit are quite pricey! Make sure you buy comfortable and long-lasting items. It’s worth checking outlet stores too 🙂

Okay what’s the connection with skincare? You’ll see later on.

Frequency of Spending: Once in six months (sometimes more if I reward myself from working out)

SPENDING LEVEL: MEDIUM

1. Nutritional Supplements.

As I become more health conscious, I’m so paranoid of what I put in my body including what fitness drink or vitamins to take. I choose Juice PLUS+® since it’s plant-based and super safe even for pregnant nursing women and kids. JP Complete (choco / vanilla shake x 6 cans) costs around €160 inc. VAT and JP premium costs €76.75 per month, including VAT and delivery, that makes it €2.55 per day of full nutrition from 26 different varieties of fruits, veg & berries – which you cannot get that amount of nutrition under €3! In total, both JP Complete and JP Premium capsules cost €3.85 per day (or like buying a cup of cappuccino everyday). I thought it’s quite pricey (esp for people like me who don’t buy a cup of coffee daily) but equating the costs vs the nutritional benefits makes sense so it goes under this level of spend-o-metre.

JP Premium

Frequency of Spending: Monthly

2. SPF protection

I do invest into a good sunscreen protection especially when I’m out and about. I use Avène Sunblock – it’s more expensive than generic brands since it comes in a smaller bottle but I’m happy with its light fragrance, easy-to-apply texture without leaving those annoying white marks like other sunscreen creams do and it provides ultimate protection while being gentle on the skin. I also had the privilege of visiting Avène’s Hydrocentre and their team showed me how they make their products. Please click here to read the full story.

Avene

Frequency of Spending: My Avène sunblock was part of goodie bag from my previous trip at their Hyrdrocentre (yahoooooo, freebies! love the perks!). But I’ll probably be buying it once a month depending on how much I go under the sun during summer (less frequent during winter).

3. Make-up

Well, I just have a few essential things in my Make up bag. I opt to be make-up free most days of the week.  I think that my skin needs to breath and make-up clog my pores – oh that’s just me. I put make-up at this level of spend-o-metre since they are expensive pretty little things plus they must come with a gentle make-up remover, however, they last a long time since I hardly use them 🙂

Here are some of the make-up free, no-filter, no-edit selfie shots I’ve taken using my iPhone since I started juicing:

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Frequency of Spending: Once a year.

4. Facial Cleanser

Here’s another revelation: after cleaning my face with a paraben-free facial cleanser (I use La Roche as seen on this post), I spray Avène Thermal Spring Water on my face and leave it til it gets dry before I moisturise.

Spray

Frequency of Spending: Every 6 weeks.

5. Fish

My husband and I eat fish at least 2-3 times a week. Fish is more expensive than meat here in South of France (not sure about your area – hope it’s the opposite as fish is supergood and yummy!). Salmon and other cold water fish are high in protein which can help to speed up the skin’s natural healing process according to Glamour.

Frequency of Spending: We buy supply good for a week, so weekly.

SPENDING LEVEL: LOW

1. Daily moisturisers

JLo said in an interview a few years ago, if there’s one thing she’ll teach her kids, it will be to moisturise. Moisturising is a skincare essential. I used to be obsessed in buying the mid-range to expensive pots. Oh I loved seeing them lined up in the special section of my bathroom back in my London days. I fell in love with Liz Earle’s Organic Moisturiser, Mandelular Sensuous Body Soufflé by Sanctuary and of course, my super Molton Brown products. Moreover, I kept collecting bottles from other brands too. Can you imagine what  my bathroom looked like then?

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Liz Earle and those nicely packaged creams but like what my husband told me, if you find products that are good for your skin, stick with it. Nowadays, I’’ve been using the affordable Oil of Olay Day and Night Cream for the face and for the body, I use Nivea Soft Cream daily (under €5).

I’ve also read somewhere that experimenting on different products may be harsh to our skin. Well, it’ll be a quest to find what really suits your skin type before sticking on it and I’m not stopping you if let’s say Crème de la Mer is the one that works for you but living a healthy lifestyle can save you from spending too much on creams and reallocate your budget such as sustaining the juicing habit.

Frequency of Spending: Face creams last upto 6 weeks and 7-10 days for the body cream shared between us

2. Other Basic Toiletries

I try to keep a low maintenance practice on the basic toiletries such as body wash (currently, we are using Dove); deodorant (I always use the DEOROCHE SPRAY – an all-natural potash alum spray with no colouring agents and fragrance plus it’s paraben free; and hair removal tools i.e. Veet facial/body easy-wax strips and Venus razor.

Frequency of Spending: Between 2-3 weeks

3. Green Tea and Eggs

Super cheap anti-oxidant polyphenol-rich green tea’s good for the skin too and eggs too – I don’t take them together though :p

Frequency of Spending: Between 2-3 weeks for a pack of green tea and every 3-5 days for the eggs

SPENDING LEVEL: NADA

1. Running 

It’s free and it makes me sweat! “Sweating is our body’s way of helping to keep our skin clean. Every day, toxins build up in our pores that need to be released. If they’re not, then our skin can break out and cause pimples, rashes and other skin infections. By sweating out these toxins, our skin stays cleaner and, over time, it will appear to look healthier than ever” (please click here for the source). Amen.  Since I started running, I haven’t had any breakouts.

2.Hydration

I don’t count the water bill on my skincare spend-o-metre as I charge it under monthly household expenditures (which by the way is included in our rent!). On top of juicing greens, I drink loads of water throughout the day and avoid sodas and other fizzy drinks. I know coffee has benefits too but I don’t drink coffee, I prefer green tea (a good source of antioxidants too).

 3. Sleep

My best friend used to have this pink pillow with a caption – Live Now Sleep Later. I’m not denying I went through that kind of lifestyle which was so-against skincare 101. According to Day, who wrote the book, Forget the Facelift, “Your skin, and your whole body, goes into repair mode when you sleep. It’s repairing and restoring and rebalancing”. My gorgeous uni friend once said, “if I sleep late, I don’t feel better the next day. If I don’t feel better, I don’t look better”. Hear, hear! Oh you must see her well-maintained skin too! In the past few years, I try my best go get 8 hours of sleep daily and I think I’m pretty good at it (*wink). Day added however, “do not oversleep as it can actually increase skin cell breakdown”.

 4. Smile

Smiling is always free and it always adds glow to the skin.

Hope you find this useful. Remember having a healthy glowing skin comes from the inside out. It’s living a healthy lifestyle – proper diet, regular exercise with good sleep and hydration plus the help of the skincare products that work for you. Don’t forget to smile too! It’s important that we take care of our skin – it’s the only skin that we have 🙂

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@katscapades tells us to forget the Yo-Yo diet and embrace the #monacodiet #beauty #health

Once again, our health, fitness (and travel) guru Katrina Santos-Baron (www.katscapades.net) shows us how to live healthier…and maybe lose a few pounds in the process! So have a good old read, take the points on board, give it a whirl and let us know what you think!! 

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One fitness quote said, ‘it takes 4 weeks for you to notice, 8 weeks for your friends and 12 weeks for the rest of the world’.  I started a Weight Loss Challenge last March but had a major relapse when I had friends come to stay for two weeks! (oops!) I almost gained what I just lost, so I discovered the importance of juicing and decided to do an Alpha-reset (5-day juicing detox) to get back into shape. Juicing has been a habit since then. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot of things, and discovered my passion for running. So taaaaaaaaadaaaaaaaaaa, I’ve lost over 5.6 kilos and just above 10cm (3.9 inches) around my waist. Yaaaaaaaaaahooooooooooooooo!

I’m so loving a healthy lifestyle. For me, it’s not just a fad or an excuse to sometimes splurge in the organic section of the supermarket. It’s way beyond counting calorie intakes or trying to join the ‘green’ club. It’s giving utmost value to ourselves, like valuing something that you’d been meaning to have and finally got it (just like when I received my first Chanel bag – it was treated like a V.I.P.!). Taking care of our body is a must, it’s the only one we have!

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I was never really a fan of crash diets. I was too skinny before anyways. In fact, I used to eat a lot! Like 3 cups of rice and meat plus a lot of sweets on one sitting three to four times a day! However, as they say, our bodies start to change as we reach the age of 25. Though I believed I had a healthier lifestyle since I moved to London (except for the cake moments with my best friend – which occurred on most days of my London life, ooops), I kinda felt this body-changing-after-25 particularly when I got married two years later. The joys of cooking and discovering amazing eating places, plus the ‘dining bond’ with my hubby (with no exercise) during the first 8 months of our marriage resulted to unpleasant muffin tops! And there I was, tempted to try different crash diets but I thought best not to. Motivated to lose weight eventually paved the way for me to really get hooked into maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

I recently had some dietary advice from a Monaco-based nutritionist  that really helped me on my fitness journey. I admit that I’m not 100% following it (I’m still human by the way), but it’s good to have it at the back of my head which acts like a little voice whenever I’m about to cook, do my grocery shopping and as I put my trainers on. I shared it with some of my friends and they’re happy with the results. This may not be new to you – I’ve known some of the items he shared before I met him but it didn’t just remind me, it also made me more aware about the importance of what we eat and do to how it affects our body

  • THE GOLDEN RULES OF NUTRITION
  • Do not ever starve yourself. When you starve, your metabolism slows down. You might be losing weight but gaining more afterwards, also known as the yo-yo effect. Like what C. Helgoe said, ‘if weight loss is your only motivation, and you jump into the latest fast being used by Hollywood stars getting ready for Oscar gowns, your program is likely to backfire’. Remember, your diet should be eating more of the right foods at the right time.
  • Eliminate flour, gluten and junk in your meals. I know this is super hard, eh?!
  • NO to dairy products – milk and cheese, huhuhuhu…. Goat’s cheese is ok (it’s not from the cow :p)
  • Here’re the good news – carbs are ok! YES! But only until 2pm.
  • Eat fruits only in the morning as most fruits have high sugar content.
  • Salt = Cellulites. Yikes!
  • NO to GMO too – choose organic.
  • Drink protein shakes for breakfast (could be mixed with fruits) and drink another one in the evening (without the fruits)
  • Fats will only be burned after 40 mins of cardio since the first 40 mins are only for sugar-burning
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep for cells to regenerate properly (natural anti-aging)
  • [Goes without saying] Drink loads of water
  • Don’t forget the veggies!

LET THE MONACO DIET BEGIN:

So here’s how my daily diet and activity looks like:

  • Between 6:30 to 7:00am: It’s cooking time! So meanwhile, I’m drinking Juice PLUS+® Complete Vanilla or Chocolate Shake. I like it how it is so I only add water. Maybe one day I’ll try making smoothies with it.
  • About 7ish: My hubby and I normally have eggs for breakfast. Eggs are packed with protein and healthy fats – good for muscle growth and burning body fats partnered with superfood – avocado and spinach served with green juice on the side.

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Once in every 2 weeks, I make tapsilog (a Filipino dish composed of beef, eggs and fried rice but I cook it a non-stick frying pan – so no oil or sometimes a tiny bit of organic olive oil). Oh, try frying tomatoes with olive oil and basil – they go well with the eggs too!

  • Between 8am to 11am: I have some fruits on my working desk.
  • Around 12ish: I’m happy with a salad especially during the heatwave in the Riviera. Have you seen my crispy lettuce with strawberry salad dressing? If not, please click here. Sometimes I eat rice or whole wheat pasta with protein and fiber (so that’s meat and veggies). I also try adding some twists to the traditional dishes such as including spinach to spag bol sauce for instance served over gluten-free pasta or zoodles (zucchini-made-like-noodles). Who says healthy food is boring and tasteless?! I disagree! 🙂

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  • When my hubby gets home at 5pm: We have an early supper mostly composed of protein and fiber (I also cook with carbs for his packed lunch the next day but I try not to eat carbs during this time, til 2pm, remember?!). Sometimes I make another glass of fresh juice.
  • Between 7pm to 8pm: Trainers on, off we go running. Since it’s been too hot lately to run by the beach, I’ve been running lately at the treadmill (3 – 4 times a week). If we get hungry after the run, we just boil 2-3 eggs each eating only the white. Bye, bye yolk!
  • 9pm: Juice PLUS+® Complete Vanilla or Chocolate Shake
  • 10ish to 11ish: Bed time!

Cheat day once a week is OK but if you sweat your ass off the gym and become aware of what’s good for the body and not, you’ll still resort to eating more of the right food and feel [a bit] guilty if not, therefore limiting unhealthy intake (if I used to eat up to 6 cupcakes at one sitting, now, 1 cupcake is enough during my cheat day).

When trying to lose weight, it is also important to think of these:

  • Why are you doing it. It’s an awesome feeling being able to fit into the clothes you want to wear, waking up with a flatter tummy, notice your skin looks younger and glowing everyday without putting on cosmetics, being able to run faster and be more mentally alert during working hours. As for me, I DON’T WANT TO BE SKINNY, I WANT TO BE FIT. I’d like to prepare my body as healthy as possible – who knows, we’ll have a baby soon? 🙂
  • Keep a diary of your progress. I did 🙂 It didn’t happen overnight, didn’t happen over a period of 10 days as well. It took me months and learned a lot along the way (and still learning!). Aside from my messy notebook, I also documented my progress @katscapades in Instagram and thru my previous blogs:
  • Do the alternatives. Take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to the grocery instead of taking the car or bus, go for a fresh morning walk instead of snooze-snooze-go-away bed mood. Just be active. Move a lot. Y’know what I mean 🙂
  • Read the labels. Geesh, I really do spend time reading labels (in French) at the supermarket!
  • Be fun and creative! Sooner or later, you’ll discover that healthy chef within you.
  • Nobody’s perfect. You may feel you’re behind your regime but don’t panic – slow progress is better than no progress at all.
  • Connect with like-minded people. Share and start inspiring others too – it’ll make you feel like a million-euro-monaco-baby!
  • Take the holistic route. Have a balanced diet, regular exercise, fill your life with laughter and love. La vie est belle!

Cheers to a healthier us! xoxo

P.S. I just called it the ‘Monaco diet’ since the nutritionist is based there. Results on individuals may vary, consult your doctor first. But overall, I recommend a healthy lifestyle 🙂

Let’s juice it baby with the Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset #weightloss #health #lifestyle #juicing

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Our travel writer Katrina Santos-Baron took a break from travelling to glamorous locations and instead spent the last week on a health trip that didn’t even require her to leave her home town! She shared her findings with Snoochie Boochies to show the benefits of tackling weight loss and healthy living through juicing, and more specifically the Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset. 

Follow her journey here and on her amazing blog: http://katscapades.net

Over to you Kat! 

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 13.19.59Two months ago, I decided to go on a Weight Loss Challenge as I wanted to lose 5 kilos (11 lbs) that I gained over the last few months.  I started it as I was coming into the realisation that married life is not an excuse to gain more inches around the waist! And I found along the way, that there’s more to life than just losing those ‘muffin tops’ I gained from a happy marriage  *giggles* and fitting once again into my size 8 dresses, jeans and stylist’s clothes, what actually happened was that I rediscovered the beauty of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And who wouldn’t want to wake up with a flatter tummy?!

Looking back at my diet, I realised I was eating a lot of oily and processed foods, particularly when my husband and I had a few friends over from our native Philippines. (I was cooking a lot of Filipino delicacies, such as binagoongan, ginataang alimasag, sinigang, rice and all for 2 weeks – not to forget the deserts on top!  – oh, good times). I applied the polite portion principle though. During this time, I noticed that my skin started to breakout and I almost gained what I just lost. Phew… So, being inspired by some of my fitness partners, I bought a juicer and I started juicing various produce.

I can officially announce that my juicer has been the busiest machine in my kitchen! I’ve been experimenting lots of different mixes, I find it de-stressing. My husband and I have moved on to replacing one meal with 1-2 cups of freshly made juice (mostly dinner) and this has been going on for few weeks now. Over this time, I noticed that I’ve lost 3 kilos and few cm off my waistline. Yahoooooo! Well that comes with also working out almost 5 days week, a holistic approach is the key!

I also noticed that with juicing, my skin got clearer with a pinkish glow effect, and I am more energetic especially when I do my usual fitness exercises.

Juicing

Its not just me who has seen the benefits:

One of my friends who inspired me to start juicing also shared her juicing experience:

“I have been juicing on and off for almost a decade already. But seriously juiced (everyday) just this year. Our family doctor recommended a recipe to make us healthier and have glowing skin noticeable in just a week. So we tried it – it was great! We went back to it this year and I really noticed a big difference in my energy levels so continued my research (since that recipe tasted horrible) and found a whole heap of new recipes to try. 

Since I started juicing, I noticed I got more energy and my skin was just glowing. There is that rosy pink glow to it. I can do so much more in the day than I used to. The energy is the most important change that I noticed. I became stronger. Also, I am a frustrated runner. My knees hurt everytime I tried to run, even for just a few seconds. But more recently I am able to do a minute of running, alternating with brisk walking then running again. I’m faster now. I’ve always known it has got to be the juicing. And just today, I discovered that cucumbers help lubricate your joints. I juice cucumber a lot, so now I know why all of a sudden I can run for a bit longer. I got hooked. And been sharing the benefits of juicing to my friends since.”

You can see why my friend is my juicing guru. We’ve been talking about different types of juicers (centrifugal vs masticating juicers and how we can’t wait to get our hands on Hurom HU-700), various juice mixes and health advice.

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The Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset 

As I got more serious about juicing I’ve started an Alpha Step: 5-day Reset. This means that I’ll be eating no food for a period of 3 days but instead, replacing all the meals with 100% fresh veggies and fruit juice every 3 hours up to 6 times a day and consuming 10-12 cups daily, then slowly introducing protein on Day 4 & 5 then back to eating clean and regular exercise.

Here’s a helpful quick-start article by Drew Canole about this – please click here. I don’t think I have the symptoms of poor digestion as mentioned in the article but I believe my body deserves a break from heavy food intake. Drew also stated that, “Alpha Step”…is the beginning step in any new workout regime or fitness goal. Okay, game.

So here’s my Alpha Step Diary:

The day before:

I started to read few articles and blogs about Alpha Step so that I get a clear understanding of what am I getting myself into. I got really excited, unfortunately, and planned my grocery shopping for the following day.

This is it. Day 1:

  • Weight: 57.7kgs
  • I had warm water with lemon as usual (let’s call this L-H20 and this is different from squeezing lemon on drinking water under room temperature; to cut the long story short, the difference is the water temperature)
  • I had a banana-kiwi smoothie for breakfast since bananas do not go in the juicer. I blended it well to ensure that it’s less thicker than a normal smoothie, almost close to the juice texture.
  • I quickly went to the shop nearby and picked few essentials
  • I’m glad I had a good 60-min cardio at the gym last Saturday as this programme prohibits excessive exercise / lifting weights for 5 days. I just did few squats at home.
  • I did the normal no.2 in the morning (sorry I had to write this in case this changes along the course)
  • Three hours later, I juiced 4 celery stalks, 4 carrots, 2 red apples, half beet root and a handful of spinach
  • My next juice was 4 big tomatoes and 2 small carrots – kinda sour…
  • I was drinking loads of water squeezed with lemon all day
  • I felt kinda dizzy, maybe that’s my body adjusting or I was just spending too much time infront of the computer, anyways, I kept on reminding myself – I can do it. Here’s my work desk with my juice (sorry it’s a bit cluttered, I usually clear it up after):

My work desk

  • I really wanted to stuff my mouth with the leftover M&Ms.. Lol.. But I thought, it’s not worth it!
  • My husband picked me up to do grocery shopping and we spent nearly £85 on produce! Okay, this is not a cheap diet but I know it’s a good health investment.
  • I got a bit hungry so I made beetroot, carrot and cucumber juice – not my favourite mix so I had water with lemon immediately
  • This is the most challenging bit: cooking salmon and aglio e olio for my husbands dinner. Okay, okay, okay… I had to hold my breath and focus on my goal: detox to lose unwanted fats and be healthier. Fine.
  • Of course I had to go to the loo frequently due to the amount of liquids drank all day (not to do no.2 – just want to make it clear)
  • For the first time in months, I felt sleepy at 9:30pm and went to bed early.

Ain’t That Easy. Day 2:

  • Weight: 56.5 kilos – I already lost 1.2 kilos
  • I had the same in the morning: L-H20 plus banana and kiwi juice-like smoothie
  • I didn’t take any fiber supplement as advised and there wasn’t a change in my toilet routine, I was still able to do no.2 at around the same time (sorry, it’s gross but I have to include it)
  • I juiced greens for lunch: broccoli, bell pepper, granny smith apple, cucumber, celery and parsley.

Green Juice

  • The dizziness had gone and I felt energetic. However I am paranoid of the pimple-popping-detox-result. I’ve read few blogs and they’ve experienced severe breakouts during the juice fast. Thankfully, no red spots on my skin yet. I guess that’s because I’ve been juicing already and been avoiding greasy junk food prior to this.
  • The green juice made me full for the next few hours until late in the afternoon. I’ve been eating Juice Plus Chewables (made from real fruits and veggies in chewy form – it melts before it even goes down to the esophagus so I guess it’s okay).
  • Another challenge: I prepared roast chicken, potatoes with onions, red and yellow bell peppers for my husband’s dinner – now that made me hungry! I was okay the whole day until this came along! I thought it was going to be easy but it made me crave for hot food!  The whole house smelled of roasted chicken and I realised this is not easy.
  • So I made a juice: half of a red bell pepper, 1 apple, 2 carrots and 2×1″ ginger. I don’t know what I was thinking – it really tasted awful.  I only had few gulps and I had to bin it… I felt really bad, I hate wasting food!
  • To give myself a little treat, I made my one of my favourite mixes – beet, carrot and apple, my comfort juice (others call it the ‘Miracle Drink’) and went to bed at past 10ish

I’m Still Alive: Day 3:

  • Yes, I’m still alive! lol. The thought of ‘no food’ was a bit scary to begin with but thinking of all the benefits from juicing and upon reading the testimonials, obviously this plan is created for a nourishing detox and I woke up happier this morning. It’s the last day anyway and tomorrow I can insert egg whites in my diet, then fish the day after.
  • This morning, I weighed 56.1 (dropped almost 1 lbs), lost 2.6cm off my waistline and no breakouts – yahooooo!
  • After the usual L-H20, I had a smoothie made of 2 bananas and a cupful of strawberries for breakfast and that kept me full for hours (I’ve been drinking water with lemon in between as well)
  • Normal toilet routine – meaning my digestion is still good 🙂
  • Got a bit hungry so I prepared a juice made of 1 pack of asparagus, 2 tomatoes and 1 carrot.

Aspharagus Juice

  • At around half 5 in the afternoon, I made an orange juice (using 6 oranges). Did you know that oranges are good for the skin? That’s one beauty secret revealed!
  • I wanted to join my husband in the gym at around 7ish but I opted not too since the plan prohibits excessive exercise as I mentioned earlier. I also have loads of unfinished work to do anyways…
  • Like in the past two days, the most challenging bit comes when I prepare dinner for my husband. I cooked Spaghetti Bolognaise (another favourite). I thought to myself, “It’s okay, Kat. Few more days and you can eat a polite portion of SpagBol. You’ve come this far, so don’t give up”.  Hope you don’t get me wrong, I’m not depriving myself – I’m detoxing just for 5-days!
  • For dinner, I made 1 beet root, 1 carrot, 1 apple, 1 cucumber, 4 celery stalks and handful of parsley.

Smiling on a Gloomy: Day 4:

  •  I woke up on a gloomy and rainy morning but I feel lighter. I went to the bathroom and I weighed 55.3kgs (1.7 lbs lost) and dropped 1cm off my waistline. No breakouts on my skin apart from a dried tiny spot on my forehead (I had this before I started the Alpha Step!)
  • I had 4 boiled eggs whites on a empty stomach replacing one juice consumption. I was so excited to have egg whites. I seemed like I’ve never felt as excited as this about egg whites in my entire life! That was filling and I had a good burp (excuse me!).
  • Banana, strawberry and kiwi smoothie for brunch at 11:45
  • I realised my no.2 didn’t take place (I hadn’t taken any fibre supplement yet)
  • I made another green juice: 3 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, parsley, broccoli and 1 lemon. Tangy, tangy…
  • I had another 2 egg whites for dinner 🙂
  • I was sleepy at around 10ish but was watching a movie with my husband, so ended up staying awake until about midnight. I was a bit cheeky and tried one of his M&Ms..but apparently, I was surprised that I didn’t like the taste – I can sorta feel the green juice on my tongue mixed with chocolate, nasty. Anyway, at least it puts me off from getting another one.

I Survived! Day 5:

  • Last day of my Alpha Step.  It’s so sunny outside so I wore my trainers and went for a quick walk around the neighborhood. But before that, I had 3 boiled egg whites for breakfast. I weighed 54.8kgs (1.3 kilos / 2.9 lbs lost) and dropped another 1cm off my waistline. I feel that my energy’s back to normal, actually I can run but I just thought maybe I’ll give it few more days.
  • After the walk, I grabbed a freshly made juice from a local juicing cafe. It’s called Sun Kissed made of mango, orange, pineapple and passion fruit  It was so refreshing!
  • I was a bit stressed for missing out my normal morning toilet routine yesterday, glad it went back to normal today (see I told you, it has to be documented!)
  • For lunch, I juiced 3 apples and 2 carrots.
  • After hours and hours of writing reports, etc for work, my husband and I went to the gym at 6:30pm. I had a banana before (that’s not part of the programme, I just had one). My friend, was also there and we did 30-min cross training session, 30-min cycling session and spent 4-mins rowing.
  • For dinner, FINALLY!!!! Tadaaaaaa…….

Fish

  • Okay, it may not look that exciting for you but I was so looking forward to eating dinner with my husband. Since Monday, I was just having juice while he was eating the food I cooked. He had rice with this fish but I just had the fish meat (I seasoned this fish with tomatoes, shallots, spring onions, lemon, ginger, pinch of salt and pepper and little olive oil popped in the oven for 15 mins covered with foil then another 15 mins without – just in case you want to find out the recipe).
  • Very Happy!

My conclusion on the Alpha Step detox

That’s my Alpha Step experience, the first detox program that I’ve tried. I lost 3 kilos (6.61 lbs) and about 4cm off my waistline. I originally wanted to become skinnier, basically get my pre-married shape back but really beyond that, I did this because I want to be healthier (shredding off those unwanted ‘muffin tops’ is a BIG bonus, wink*… plus the glowing skin). Of course I won’t binge on food after fasting for 5 days. Slowly, I’ll go back to eating clean foods and will avoid junk food as much as possible.

If you are looking for a detox programme without losing the important nutrients needed by our body, I think this one is for you. Don’t worry about not having carbs, it’s just 5 days anyway! Just make sure you consult your doctor first especially if you are undergoing medication.

I suggest that before you do this, get a juicer and insert this juicing habit in your daily life. Try replacing one meal, preferably at night, with 1-2 cups of freshly made juice like what I’d been doing before this detox program (and will be doing after). Then see if you think you are ready for the Alpha Step. Otherwise, juice anyway. And keep juicing, baby!

Here are quick tips about juicing:

  • Have the right mindset. Be beautiful inside and out.
  • It ‘s really important that you connect with the people who are also into this. It’s helpful to follow blogs, Facebook pages and Instagram posts. I’ve downloaded ‘The Everything Juicing Book’ by Carole Jacobs and ‘The Funk Fresh Juice ebook’ by Jason Vale in my iBooks.
  • Get a good juicer. Currently, I am using an Electrolux centrifugal juicer since I didn’t really know what to get at first. Now, I’m saving up for a Hurom slow juicer (it’s about £360!). Also consider if it is easy-to-clean as you must clean your juicer every after use.
  • Make sure you wash your fruits and veggies properly, you’ll never know! Also it’s better to use a plastic chopping board instead of a wooden one. Do not chop meats using this chopping board – get a separate one for that.
  • Do not store produce in the fridge for long. They only last for few days. I know it will take you several trips to the grocery weekly but believe me, it’s all worth it. Plus you get to burn those extra fats by walking to the supermarket!
  • Be prepared for frequent toilet visit.
  • Even busy people can make this a healthy habit.
  • Juice greens! Juice those superfoods that you can’t eat – at least you can cover your nose when you drink!
  • Juice less fruits at night – they’re good during the day or before the work-out. How about a refreshing apple-carrot juice after a 5km run?
  • Drink your juice immediately, you don’t to lose those nutrients!
  • Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning – it alkalizes your body.
  • If you feel you haven’t juiced enough, try Juice Plus Chewables (I used to eat Haribo gummies whilst working, now I replaced it with these all-natural fruit and veggie chewies)
  • Get a juicing journal or save your juicing mixes in your iPhone notes. I like taking pictures too.
  • Try, experiment, enjoy!
  • Just think of your health, really. That’s about it. Benefits will follow 🙂

Happy Juicing and cheers to a healthier us!

Catch up with the very first #innocentinspires event with @innocentdrinks

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A few weeks back we reported on the fantastic Innocent Inspires event held by our friends at Innocent Drinks. With influential speakers such as James Cracknell, Charlie Dark from Run Dem Crew and Dr Pixie McKenna speaking, we felt totally uplifted and healthier after the event.

The aim of this very first Innocent Inspires event was to help us all find ways to ‘Live Well and Die Old’ so this included easy ways to exercise, how to eat healthier foods and keep not only your physical but mental self well. We learnt a hell of a lot that night and cant wait to see what the next event has to offer, but if you missed this one, fear not as the lovely people at Innocent Drinks have shared some fantastic videos from the event.

If you want to find out more about the future Innocent Inspires event then make sure you click here! 

To kick start here’s a fantastic overview of the whole event:

And if you want to watch the speaker talks in full, just sit back, relax and press play!

James Cracknell

Charlie Dark, Founder of Run Dem Crew

Embarrassing Bodies Dr Pixie McKenna

 

Treat yourself to a healthier life with #InnocentInspires @innocentdrinks #review #event #health

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When you think of the word smoothie a few brands probably pop into your head – more often than not, its Innocent Smoothies. Believe it or not, but this ‘Innocent’  brand has been around for 14 years, and ever since its conception, the ethos behind Innocent is to do products in a truly good way – to make products that taste good, that do people good and to do good in the wider world too. With these values, it’s not hard to see why Innocent has become one of the UK’s most well-known and loved brands, bringing health and goodness to all its customers in a small bottle.

Now that Innocent is well and truly established, it has the ability to expand beyond its product range and really try to make an active difference in the wider world, and in 2013 this starts with a series of Innocent Inspires events. These events are a series of five evenings where all of Innocents key values are brought to life in one place. Yesterday, for the kick off event, it was brought to life in a church hall, cleverly transformed into a school gym with a difference.

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This was known as Chapter One: How to live well and die old. This event was all about health, how we can live healthier lives and eventually live longer. To say this event was inspiring is an understatement. Considering the rubbish weather we’ve been having lately, smiles are hard to come by, but the moment we arrived at Latimer Road station, we were greeted with big smiles by an Innocent representative donned in flourescent head-gear and that was just the start! As we reached the hall, the helpful staff (and you really do get the unusual feeling that everyone who works for Innocent loves their job!) took our coats and showed us the way to a healthier lifestyle… it was upstairs.

What innocent did was create an atmosphere that made exercise fun. Becky our reporter will tell you a thousand times how she hates exercise, so it’s no IMG_2732wonder she was the perfect choice to send along! From delicious smoothies handed out as you entered the room to yummy plates of hummus and vegetables and teams of Innocent staff just waiting to get you involved in mini exercise events such as the ‘toilet squats.’ It really made the idea of eating and living healthier that little less daunting. Once everyone had gathered, it was time for the main event. Three inspirational speakers.

Legendary Olympian and extreme adventurer James Cracknell, was the first to take to the stage, he talked about the power of human will, about overcoming the odds and how everyone can really achieve great things if they put their minds to it. In short form, this sounds quite patronising and like a cheesy American life coach trying to sell you the solution to a happier life, but with someone like James Cracknell (who was armed with videos and photos of all his outstanding achievements) you realise he was an ordinary person, who embraced his drive and focus to achieve great things. Taking the audience on a journey from the Olympics to the Antarctic, we all quickly realised that he really had done it all, and with that he was someone to aspire to be like, to learn from and to feel very lucky to be in the presence of.

Next up was an equally inspiring person, but in a completely different way. Charlie Dark is the founder of Run Dem Crew, an ex DJ who took solace at night with his passion for running and a want for a healthier life. He turned this passion from something he did for himself, to something he involved his friends with and now something that inspires hundreds of people. Charlie’s aim is to get the younger generation off their backsides, doing something active and finding a community they can trust in which helps inspire, guide and encourage. IMG_2733What Charlie spoke about was team work, and how helping others is far greater than just helping yourself. Running, is the perfect example of this, a solo sport, where the majority strive to achieve personal bests. With Run Dem Crew, its not all about PB’s it’s about supporting each other and embracing the fact that you reached the finish line, not how quickly you did it in. Through this it seems very apparent that a lot of people in London are now enjoying the sport of running, but they’re also meeting new friends, feeling better about their lifestyles and encouraging others to do the same.

Finally, we had Dr Pixie McKenna from Embarrassing Bodies and other health programmes. She took the audience through the top ten things that can really affect our health, and was the perfect end point to the other talks. Dr Pixie talked through in a very down to earth manner, how the smallest of changes could have a more positive impact on our lives. For instance, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and without it you risk becoming obese in later life, fish is incredibly important in our diets – we need Omega 3 which our body doesn’t produce itself, and how 30 minutes of exercise a day can make you live a longer and healthier life.

We caught up with Dr Pixie and also Charlie Dark as part of our v-log we created for the event. Why don’t you check it out below. And if you want to find out more about the Innocent Inspires events (and we really recommend that you do) you can do so here. The next Innocent Inspires event will feature supermodel Erin O’Connor and will be all about Ethics, so make sure you book your place now!