Category Archives: health

BEAUTY: Vashtie’s 5 Step Organic Beauty Regimen x Luzern Labs, Dr. Alkaitis & Be Natural Organics

I should start off by saying, I am not an expert in this field.

A few short years ago, I was literally using bar soap or whatever was in the shower to wash my face. I’m cringing at my history as we speak. Every now and again I would pick up something dedicated to faces from a pharmacy, like St. Ives Apricot Scrub. Don’t even ask about moisturizer – I can’t remember ever using anything regularly.

I’ve been a no-fuss gal for my entire life, partly because I’ve been very lucky with my skin. No phase of acne, or anything…nothing. So, when I decided to see facialist Mamie McDonald 7 years ago – I expected nothing but an A+ on my skin’s record. I was dead wrong. Mamie basically read my face for filth. She told me my skin was severely dehydrated and that I needed to keep up with a solid regimen.

I was floored, but I can take that kind of criticism. It made me only want to get my skin right and get it tight. I researched all the brands out there and I was definitely interested in buying products that were low in chemicals, paraben free, etc. I stumbled upon Dermalogica which was affordable, fragrance free and free of synthetics. Time went on and I became more committed to my skin care regimen. I started to mix up my system, incorporating products from companies like IS Clinincal which were not only focused on cleansing – but, also focused on preventing pre-mature aging.

As the years have gone, I’ve continued on my path of healthy eating which has led me to eat Raw at least once a day. I’ve also become more aware of the sickening levels of chemicals in everyday products, thanks to CosmeticDatabase.Com. You really need to check it. It’s a database that can tell you how the products you use rate on a scale of 1-10, from the least toxic to the most. For example, take a mainstream Baby Lotion that almost everyone has grown up with and continue to use on their children because it’s a household name that you trust. See what rating it gets…

 

They even break down each ingredient and explain how each one has an adverse effect. It’s super thorough and scary sometimes.

Trust me, when I found out that the certain lipstick I loved was chemical-laden, I didn’t want to let go of my favorites, but eventually I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. Also, the least chemical-free products will surprise you sometimes. It’s not always something expensive. For instance, the saline solution that rates a 0 on the scale is CVS brand and that’s the one I use! I’m no expert, but there has to be some truth to this. We wonder why we and the ones we love are stricken with disease and while some are genetic and some may be unexplained, we should at least avoid bad products to lessen our odds of getting sick. Right?

Anyways, after trashing all the products that were bad for me I became interested in skincare that was the same. I found a “raw facialist” via Google, which led me to my current facialist who also involves Reiki – Monica Watters at Sacred Touch. She is a like-minded woman who is educated in non-invasive anti-aging techniques and is also a certified Reiki Master, Reflexologist, Raw Food Chef, Crystal Therapist, Bach Flower Practitioner and Certified Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher. She put me on to most of the current products I use; Luzern and  Dr. Alkaitis which I absolutely love.


For those of you interested in what my skincare regimen, here it is. This is not a paid post, most of my long-time readers probably know that already. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten paid to blog (*rubs chin and looks upwards wondering how to make that happen). Like I said, I’m no expert, this is just what I currently do for my face.

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STEP 1: FACIAL CLEANSER

Dr. Alkaitis Organic Purifying Facial Cleanser – $65.00

Application: Morning & Night

Dr. Alkaitis is a brand with a tagline of “Holistic Organic Skin Food”, which sounds perfect when you think about. If skin is the body’s largest organ (eeek I feel gross whenever I remember that) then it would make sense that whatever you put on it should be edible by the human mouth. I now live and obsess by that very thought, if you can’t eat what you put on your skin then you shouldn’t put it on your skin. It’s also “100% organically grown, raw skin food for all skin types. Gender neutral. Chemical free. Cruelty free. No GMO’s.” It’s also been featured in magazines like Vogue , Harper’s Bazaar and is popular among famous beautiful faces like Karolina Kurkova and Gisele Bundchen.

What’s great about Dr. Alkaitis is that you can try their products in trial size for a fraction of the cost of their full sized products. I absolutely love that feature and the prices range from $3.50 to $8.00. Don’t you just hate when you buy a product to try it out and you hate it?! I sure do. Anyways, the samples are how I fell in love with the Dr. Alkaitis Brand. I highly recommend you try it!

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STEP 2 – TONER

Luzern Labs Vita-o2 Glacial Toner – $38.00

Application: Morning & Night, after Cleansing/before Serum. Spray evenly across face and neck.

I also use Luzern Labs from Switzerland, which is pricier depending on the product – but also involves a scientific approach. “Amidst the pristine beauty of the Swiss Alps, a new concept in luxury skin care is born. One designed to enhance the health and beauty of the skin, from the inside out. Our state of the art pharmaceutical-grade ingredients contain ultra-high levels of peptides, antioxidants and polyphenols, and are processed pure and free from skin damaging additives. From wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and loss of elasticity, Luzern Labs takes skin care to new levels of efficacy, without synthetics, preservatives or chemicals.”

via Luzern Labs: “Part toner, part hydrator and pore-refiner. Maximizes benefits from products that follow. This soothing toner helps remove excess residue, tighten pores and provides on-demand moisture. Reduces fatigue and irritation from daily exposure to environmental pollutants. A must have for frequent fliers and post peels! Hypo-allergenic. Non-comedogenic. FORMULATED WITHOUT: – Preservatives – Parabens – Sulfates – Propylene Glycol – Synthetic Fragrances – Synthetic Dyes – Petro-Chemicals – GMOs – Phthalates”

OTHER NATURAL THINGS I’VE USED IN THE PAST: Homemade Green Tea Toner

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STEP 3 – SERUM

Luzern Labs Serum Absolut Rehydrate – $85.00

Application: Morning & Night, after Toner/before Moisturizer. 2 Pumps into palm of hand, pat into face and neck.

Serums are absolutely necessary. They help your skin to absorb your moisturizer helps to create a dewy look. This serum is full of Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin B5 + Bio-Lipid Moisture Enhancing Complex. ”This lightweight serum absorbs instantly and leaves skin dewy soft and youngerlooking. Hyaluronic Acid increases skin’s moisture. Vitamin B5 penetrates skin cells to add moisture and a desirable plumping effect. Lipids restore the barrier function of the epidermis to improve long-termhydration andprotect skin from irritants. Excellent for all skin types: Dry and rough skin feels hydrated, softer and healthy all day. Combination and oily skin gets deep, long-lasting moisture without feeling oily.

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STEP 4 – EYE SERUM

Be Natural Organics Eye Repair Night Serum – $17.60

Application: Morning & Night, after Toner/before Moisturizer. 1 Pump into palm of hand and applied along orbital bone

I found Be Natural Organics from CosmeticDatabase.Com when I was looking for beauty products ranging in the 0 rating. They are incredible and affordable. This eye serum is a must! There are no functioning oil glands under the eye, which leaves little to no moisture around them – so we must moisturize that area, unless you’d like pre-mature crow’s feet sprouting up!

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STEP 5 – MOISTURIZER

Luzern Labs Force De Vie Creme Intensive – $155.00

Application: Morning & Night. Applied by dipping 1 q-tip in jar, so not to contaminate product. Dab on face and rub in upwards motion.

I swear by this moisturizer Force De Vie Pure Oxygen Creme Intensive. I must warn you – retails for $155 (I know, it’s expensive!), but it’s become a necessity in my life! My face always feels plumper and softer after applying it, not sticky or heavy.

OTHER NATURAL THINGS I’VE USED IN THE PAST: Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil.

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Check out MICHELLE PHAN, beauty blogger’s, video on how to layer your products. Not only is she great at her beauty tutorials, her videos are well-made and her skin is lovely! I watched this one and now I try and apply my products as she does!

 

I hope this helps anyone who was curious out there. If you have a great skincare regimen, please share!

Especially if it’s a family secret or a natural/homemade concoction. I love those!

xo, va$htie.

PS: Boys need to take care of their skin too! #justsaying

HEALTH: A Sample Day Of My Weird Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Diet…The Homemade Edition

Okay, so some of you have asked me to share a little bit of my diet. Over the years it has fluctuated and changed, but it has mostly been of a Vegetarian/Vegan frame. Currently – I do not eat meat or dairy, but I do eat fish and eggs…so I’m not sure I count as a Vegan or Vegetarian.

I became Vegetarian at the age of 12. Even back then I was an advocate for animals and personal health – I was also a huge supporter of Green Peace (no lie). It wasn’t until I fell in love with my older brothers friend, Brian, that I decided to become Vegetarian. Why was falling in love with him the deciding factor in my diet? Well, because he was Vegetarian and in my 12 year old mind I thought it would impress him despite our 6 year age difference. I’m not sure it did. Anyways, I kept with the diet and actually liked it.

VASHTIE circa age 12

(don’t you just love that awkward, apathetic pre-teen smile that we all had)

At age 14, I became Vegan. My straight edge/Vegan/hard core friends put me on to it. I watched terrible videos of how inhumanely cows were treated, learned the facts about dairy and how you should only drink it if you’re a calf and I vowed never to go back. I will say that I noticed a huge difference in my energy and breathing once I removed dairy from my system. I was never lactose intolerant, but I felt super clean and energized – it was pretty dramatic and I suggest you try taking dairy out of your system for a week to see how you feel.

A few years ago, I thought maybe I should try meat again. It had been 12 years since I had eaten it, and although I didn’t miss it – I thought, why not try it out. I went directly to red meat…and I didn’t get sick after not eating it for so long, which many Vegetarians deal with after an absence of meat. After a while, I’d forget that I started eating meat again. I wouldn’t order it when I went out to eat and realized I wasn’t very much into eating it. So…I went back to my old ways.

In general, my diet is something of a trial and error. I learned what worked for me and what didn’t and came to my current diet. I used to skip meals during the day because eating while working made me feel sluggish. Then I started eating more of a Raw diet and was able to eat during the day and not feel tired. I also like the idea of eating things that are good for me so it makes not eating fried foods, bread, pasta, dairy and meat easy. That’s just me and everyone is different.

Here is a run down of the things that I eat…The “HOMEMADE EDITION”

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BREAKFAST

Soft Boiled Eggs and 1/4 Avocado

I don’t eat anything before I go to the gym, but I eat this right after I work out – so this is technically my breakfast. Eggs are good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein and Selenium. Avocado is a great source of Fiber, Potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and Folic Acid. I drizzle a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Flax Seed Oil over it…both are essential for great skin! I then top with crushed sea salt and black pepper. It’s the bomb.

Side note: I used to think soft boiled eggs were weird because of the sloppy yolk, but I’ve grown to actually love it. It’s also a regular dish for Europeans, we Americans tend to have less love for the hard-boiled or soft-boiled egg.

Green Juice

I try and drink at least one green juice a day. This one is Beets, Spinach, Kale, Ginger, Apple and Lemon. It wasn’t very delicious when I first started drinking them years ago, but you start to enjoy them and they’re super good for you. If you want to try and a green juice, but find the taste unbearable…just add more apple so the sweetness will cover up the green flavor.

Side note: Juices can be expensive, it’s true…but, if you can drink one at least once a week you will be investing in the best stock of all – yourself! You can buy a juicer for at home use and make your own affordable concoctions. I try and juice at home with my Jack Lalanne Juicer, but sometimes it’s just easier to pick one up. A juice in New York City can run about $6-$8.

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LUNCH

Steamed Vegetables with Avocado and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This is super easy and cheap to make and for me it’s really filling. The Broccoli is full of good source of Protein, Thiamin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese. The Sweet Potato is full of Beta Carotene and Vitamin A!

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DINNER

Raw Zucchini Pasta & Rao’s Arrabbiata Sauce

So, I like to eat raw whenever possible. I’ve found that it keeps me energized throughout the day whereas before, I would skip meals in order not to feel sluggish (ie: get the “itis”) after eating. I also avoid cooked food because most foods cooked over 115 degrees loses it’s nutrients and becomes “dead food” (which weirds me out when I think about). Again, this is just me. Other people are different, so I suggest you follow what works for you.

This dish is basically a raw Zucchini cranked through a Spirooli Spiral Maker (it makes pasta like strands of vegetables for pasta replacements or making curly fries). Then, I add my favorite sauce in the whole wide world – Rao’s Arrabbiata Sauce. Its super spicy and just damn good it makes me drool to think about it! Despite trying to eat as raw as possible, tomato sauce is one of those rare items that I like to cook because with heat it becomes more potent.

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DESSERT

Raw Cheesecake (via Juice Press)

Again, I like to eat Raw as much as possible. When it comes to dessert, I prefer them to be Raw and if not I will settle for just Vegan. There are just so many delicious Raw/Vegan options now-a-days that it makes indulging in sweets feel less guilt-ridden. I have a sweet tooth, so the less guilt involved the better I feel. Also, Diabetes runs in my family so I have to be careful with my sugar intake.

This slice of pie from The Juice Press is super expensive ($12) and I don’t have it that often…maybe once or twice a month as a splurge. It may be pricey, but it is amazing…rich, sweet and decadent. It also makes me feel good that I’m only eating berries, agave, nuts and coconut rather than heavy cream, butter, white flour and oil.

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I hope this gives you guys some insight into my diet. Some of you may think it’s weird and that’s fine because so do my friends! While I would love to be that girl that can eat french fries and Cool Ranch Doritos while still feeling awesome, I can’t. Eating this way makes me feel good which ultimately makes me happy. While I know it’s not for everyone, I do think that trying new things is important – especially healthy things!

I will try and post a “TAKEOUT EDITION” to show you how a gal like me eats when I’m on the town.

HEALTH: Vitamin-Popping in a Health Stance

photo via MentalFloss.Com

As if life as an adult couldn’t be more difficult, now we have to swallow pills upon pills just to get the right nutrients. You can’t chew a Flintstones Vitamin and call it a day anymore…oh no…long gone are those days!

If we’re serious about the long haul in today’s day and age, we need to really commit to VITAMIN-POPPING. One might assume that we get it from our food, but not always. Most foods are overcooked  into oblivion (think deep fried anything), which depletes food of their nutrients and enzymes (unless it’s a food like tomato, which gets stronger the more its cooked). Its important that we try and get our vitamins through eating nutrient rich food (salads, fresh juices, etc), but sometimes those french fries look better on your plate rather than the side salad  - this is where vitamins come in handy! We have to get our  nutrients somewhere and vitamin-popping makes it easy!

Below is a list of the vitamins/supplements I take and a photo of the bottle and pill. Hopefully it can inspire you to start vitamin-popping (if you don’t already) and taking care of your body. Also – I am no expert, so if there is something that you suggest I add – let me know in the comments below.

PLEASE NOTE:

1: You should consult your doctor before starting a regimen to make sure it’s safe for you.

2. Some of the brands I buy are pricier than others, but you don’t need to buy the same ones I use. The most important things is that you are supplementing your bodies needs. There are a ton of safe and up to standard versions that are cheaper. I’d suggest going to your local health food store and asking a store clerk, they usually know which brands are good that are affordable!

Lignan Flaxseed Oil (via Barleans.Com)

With its wholesome, nutty flavor Barlean’s Highest Lignan Flax Oil is a pure, unfiltered and unrefined source of essential omega-3 fatty acids and nutrient-rich lignans. A foundational addition to a healthy diet, our organic, high-lignan content flax oil is ideal for those who aspire to nutritionally support:

Heart Health

*Cholesterol Levels Already Within a Healthy Range*Joint Mobility & Bone Density*

Energy & Endurance

*Blood Glucose Levels Already Within a Healthy Range*

Skin, Hair & Nail Health*

What are Lignans?

Lignans are a highly studied and researched class of plant phytonutrients most abundantly found in flaxseed that have recently come to the forefront of nutritional research. Numerous studies have reported on the role of lignans in support of heart and hormonal health.* Barlean’s Fresh ExPressedâ„¢ extraction process gently liberates delicate Omega-3 flax oil, while capturing lignan flaxseed particulate.

 

Rich’s Pure MSM – $25 (via RichDistributing.Com)

MSM is not a medicine, a drug, or a food additive. It is a FOOD – a pure organic white sulfur powder. It comes from the ocean and is water soluble. Sulfonyl sulfur is found in plants, meats, dairy products, and vegetation. MSM is the 3rd largest ingredient found in your body.

If our body doesn´t receive the proper nutrition and the building materials it needs, it will produce bad, dysfunctional cells, deficient of the basic ingredients that constitute a healthy cell. If you´ve ever had a canker sore it´s because you lack something in your diet, possibly vitamin A or C. Your body tries to heal itself, but with deficient materials, it draws from other resources, and usually takes what it needs from the inside skin of our mouths leaving a sore on the inside of the mouth. If we give the body what it needs to heal itself, it will repair the sore in the mouth and the skin will become healthy again. If we want a good flexible cell, capable of maintaining good health, we need to supplement our diets with MSM, to enable the body to heal itself

 

Innate Women’s Multi – $40 (via InnateResponse.Com)

Crafted exclusively from nutrient-rich whole foods to support and promote the health of women in their reproductive years. Botanicals known to help balance and support the reproductive, endocrine and nervous systems were also included. The botanical extracts in Women’s Multi including vitex, red raspberry leaf and licorice root are provided in small quantities, in the traditional tonic use of herbs. This formula is further enriched with alfalfa and Hydrilla, two nourishing green foods rich in minerals, B12 and chlorophyll. Formulated with iron from True Active™ FoodState®, which is not only gentle on the stomach but also non-binding. Iron is an important mineral for women with which to supplement their diet during the reproductive years.

 

Nordic Naturals Complete Omega 3-6-9 – $19.95 (via NordicNaturals)

Supports a healthy immune system and joint flexibility*
The omega “multi”—a healthy balance of omegas-3, 6, and 9
+1000 I.U. vitamin D3 per serving

Complete Omega-3.6.9-D provides the same balanced formula as Complete Omega-3.6.9, plus the added benefits of natural vitamin D3. This omega-rich blend supports cardiovascular health, brain function, positive mood, as well as healthy joints, hair, skin, and nails, while vitamin D3 promotes strong bones as well as healthy immune and neuromuscular function.* Vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol) is the natural form of vitamin D produced by the body, and is better absorbed and utilized than other forms.

 

BlueBonnet  Vitamin A & D3 10,000 IU/400 IU SOFTGELS  - $10 (via Amazon)

Bluebonnet’s Vitamin A 10,000 IU & D3 400 IU Softgels provide 100% natural vitamin A and vitamin D3 from deep sea, cold water, fish liver oil and is molecularly distilled. Available in easy-to-swallow softgels for maximum assimilation and absorption.

 

Innate Response Digestive Enzymes Clinical Strength – $48.95 (via PureFormulas)

Your digestive system is complex. This is why Innate Response Formulas’ Digestive Enzymes Clinical Strength Capsules may be just what you need to help improve your digestion. This formula is a broad spectrum supplement that contains a number of proteolytic, lipolytic, and carbohydrolytic enzymes specifically chosen to help support a compromised digestive system.

With over a dozen ingredients, Digestive Enzymes Clinical Strength is one of the most robust enzyme supplements on the market. Some of these ingredients include:

  • Protease is an enzyme that helps your body break down protein.
  • Bromelain and papain come from pineapples and papayas, and also work to break down proteins.
  • Amylase is another enzyme, which is produced in the pancreas and helps break down starches.
  • Lactase is one of the most well known enzymes: it’s responsible for breaking down lactose. If you’re lactose-intolerant, your body doesn’t have enough lactase enzymes to properly break down lactose, meaning that you must stay away from dairy products and other foods that contain it.
  • Invertase is used to metabolize and digest sucrose, another type of sugar.
  • Cellulase isn’t naturally produced by your body, but it helps you digest the fibrous material found in plants that you’d normally be unable to absorb. This makes cellulase a vital enzyme in your daily diet.
  • Lipase is an enzyme that’s produced in the pancreas and helps break down certain fats during the digestive process.