Magic Soap

I am a big fan of soap.  I’m into the handmade variety (as I also make it) instead of the mass-produced stuff.  If I had to choose one (and only one) reason alone for endorsing the use of real soap instead of body wash (aka detergent) I would rest my case on this simple fact: soap does not remove oil and dirt.  Such a statement sounds surprising, sure, but it is true.  The makers of various body washes would have us believe that soap strips and dries the skin while body washes are gentle and moisturizing.  They aren’t telling you that they are referring to mass-produced bars of soap which use a host of strange ingredients including beef tallow (which is one of the more harmless additions, let me say).

Like I said, soap (the real stuff) does not remove oil and dirt; it dissolves it.  For a body wash to work, it has to remove everything from the epidermis (including the natural good oils) and try to put some kind of moisture back in so your skin doesn’t feel stripped.  Soap doesn’t have to strip your skin because is breaks down impurities and dissolves them.  Your skin feels clean without feeling chapped and dry when you step out the shower.

Liquid Castile soap has become a staple in my home.  It lathers beautifully, cleanses without stripping, and a little goes a long way.  My favorite liquid Castile soap is Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure Castile soap.  I particularly like the Lavender and the Rose liquid soaps.  Dr. Bronner’s is made with organic ingredients and has been ever since the beginning.  The soap was organic even before it was the ‘in’ thing to do.  Recently, I started using Dr. Bronner’s soap to wash my hair instead of shampoo.  I’ve been pleased with the results.  My hair and scalp feel clean without the use of an SLS shampoo, and I get the lather I crave when washing my locks.  There are loads of uses for this soap, as any one who has ever read reviews for the product can tell you.  People use it in their dishwashers, to clean the house (it cleans the bath tub with incredible ease) and even as tooth paste, although I can’t say I’m interested in using it for that purpose.

The whole story behind the soap maker and the company (now run by his son) is an interesting read.  A lot of people say Dr. Bronner brings his own particular brand of crazy to the world, but I’m more focused on the actual product, which is great.  I will say this, it takes guts to stamp your life’s philosophy on the label of your product.

7 Minutes Flat

At least, that’s a goal that most of us share (especially after popping out a couple of kids).  One of the sexiest things to me is a flat, washboard stomach.  Now, I will admit that I absolutely hate exercise.  It’s not that I’m lazy…far from it.  I’ve always been active. Loved sports, climbing trees and riding my bike when I was younger.  I’m very active at work, and with young children I get more than my share of a great workout.  What I can’t stand is working out at the gym.  I’ve wasted money on two memberships in the past, and I’ve learned that I do not have the inclination or discipline to leave my house just to go to the gym.  I’m at my best when playing a sport, game or doing something that is physically challenging.  In other words, my mind has to be occupied with more than just how many reps I’m doing.  To all those out there who are gym bunnies, you truly have my respect, because I can’t stick it out.  A couple of summers ago, I decided to tackle my stomach.  Before kids, it was flat and firm.  After my last child, it eventually flattened out (somewhat), but there was a roll (small one) and my stomach itself needed toning.  It was soft and pudgy and when I poked it with my finger, it would sink all the way in as if I were made of Pillsbury dough just like our little friend on the commercial.  I decided to find an exercise regimen to help with this concern of mine.  At the time I had Exercise TV on demand, so it was easy to browse through what they had to find something for the stomach area.  What I found was 7 Minute Abs.  It seemed perfect, because I didn’t have the discipline for something long, but I felt confident that I could do 7 minutes every other day.

It hurt like hell.

I didn’t know 7 minutes was all it took to bring me to the point of nearly passing out.  My stomach remained on fire for days, but I kept with it and did the routine all summer.  By six weeks my tummy was almost as flat as before I had kids, and I had faint definition lines.   I  put a close friend on to the routine and she adopted my schedule, soon to discover similar results to mine several weeks later.  My stomach went from pudgy to firm.  When I poke it with my finger, the muscle does not cave in. My finger bounces back.  I still use the program on occasion, and haven’t found anything better.  I recommend watching it through one time before starting.  That way you have an idea of the sequence of movements.  Also, a yoga mat is definitely helpful.

Not Your Grocer’s Variety.

green-morning-glory-juice-440I’m a juicer.  I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but juicing is now a part of our daily schedule (more or less).  Until last April, my thoughts on vegetable juice were closely linked to the taste of V8. *yuck*  We all know that eating our fruits and vegetables is good for us.  The question is, how many of us are actually meet the recommended daily serving (which varies depending on your age, sex and activity level)? In my home, fruit is abundant.  It’s a great snack for the kiddies,  and I like  tossing berries or apple wedges in my salad.  I also cook vegetables as a side to go with dinner. Still, I’ve often felt as though we’re still not getting enough fruit and veg.  This is where juicing changes everything.  When hubby bought the juicer, I didn’t want anything to do with it.  First off, all I could think of was how bad vegetable juice would taste.  I even felt relieved that I was grown, that way, I couldn’t be forced to drink it.   I quickly revised my notion.  It’s pretty much impossible to eat a big bag  of baby spinach, five or six big carrots, two apples, and a few extras all in one go; however, you can drink it quite easily. And it’s delicious.  There are many people who have made juicing a part of their lifestyle and can see it’s numerous benefits.  It’s okay to take a multi-vitamin, and I do, but I also look at what I’m drinking and I’m sure that the juice is better for my body than the vitamin is.  Why?  The juice I drink isn’t heated or pasteurized, so every vitamin, phytonutrient, anutrient, antioxidant, etc. is there.  More over, there are so many beneficial components that make up the produce we eat.  Man has only discovered a fraction of them.  When I was a kid, we had no idea that there were antioxidants in our fruits.  Whatever else we do not yet know of, the only way we can benefit from it is to eat or drink our fruits and veggies.  A few of the great things my husband and I have noticed since juicing in the last year are

  1. Green Juice (ie. juices made with greens such as spinach, kale, etc.) helps allergies: This appears to be my hubby’s cure.  Before we started juicing, my husband dreaded the spring.  He suffered from severe allergies that began at the end of winter until the start of the next.  He went from having allergies, hay fever, etc. to being allergy-free.  Note: Allergies are complex, and there is no ‘cure all’ for everyone.  Some people’s allergies are actually sensitivities or candida based, so it’s good to some research.
  2. Improved Energy/Metabolism: Remember in school when the teacher would explain the difference between eating an apple and eating a candy bar?  Turns out, she was right.  Your body takes all the good stuff and uses it as fuel, simply speaking. Top of the line fuel.  Juice also helps how your body works and can help reset or boost a sluggish metabolism.  A lot of different vegetables such as celery, for example, are cleansing, helping to flush the junk that sticks inside us and prevents us from absorbing the nutrients we need from our food.
  3. Improved Libido: This one was a surprise.  If you had problems before, this may be the help you need.  If everything is all good, then you’ll be pleased to find yourself going for an extra round or two (or three).  I know a few other people (male and female) who juice who also discovered this added bonus. 
  4. Health Insurance: Juice isn’t a ‘magic bullet’ that will shield you from all sickness.  But consider this: many doctors today are convinced that the illnesses we get are in part due to our diet.  We are not eating/drinking as we should.  Fruits and vegetables have properties that not only nourish the body, but also help it fight against environmental agents that can damage it. 

We try to buy organic whenever possible and incorporate juicing as a regular part of our routine.  Organic produce is not cheap, but we’ve learned where to buy our things from (ie. Trader Joe’s, B.J.’s) and it’s not possible to go back to life without juicing.  My husband took a break from the juice routine six months after we started.  He felt terrible.  The strange thing is, he had always felt wiped out, but was used to it.  After juicing, he realized it wasn’t normal and he didn’t have to feel that way.  If you are going to get a juicer, I recommend a masticating juicer as it is the type that can handle greens (such as spinach, celery, wheat grass, etc.) as well as fruit. The Green Star Juicer is great, and although it costs an arm and a leg, as long as you use it, it is a wise investment.  Also, look into getting a good juicing book.  Juicing for Life, by Cherie Calbom is very helpful. So, there you have it. Juicing. It does the body good.