Category Archives: Wellness

Skin, Hair and Nails, OH MY!

  1. If your hair is looking super greasy, dried and straw-like, discolored, broken-off and fuzzy, frizzy, tangled, engrossed with split-ends, or you have an itchy scalp with dandruff/scaling: it’s your endocrine system.
  2. If your skin has a funny yellowish/other color tint, is producing lots of acne-causing oils and blackheads, growing abnormal amounts of hair/ingrown hairs, is dry, cracked, flaky or discolored: it’s your endocrine system.
  3. If your nails are splitting, breaking off, ingrown, bleeding or cracked at the cuticle, discolored, really thin, flimsy or extra thick: it’s your endocrine system.
  4. If you are constantly getting sick, have swollen lymph nodes, have a chronic ailment related to your immune system: it’s most likely due to a dysfunctional gland(s) within the endocrine system; unfortunately, this dysfunction may prove to be an accurate reflection of lifestyle choices.

Your endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate your body’s growth, metabolism, and sexual development and function.  The hormones are released into the blood stream and transported to tissues and organs throughout the body.  The endocrine system consists of:

  • Pineal body-Involved with daily biological cycles
  • Pituitary-Produces a number of different hormones that influence other various endocrine glands
  • Hypothalamus-Activates and controls the part of the nervous system responsible for many involuntary bodily functions (for example, regulating sleep or stimulating appetite) and influences hormones
  • Thyroid gland-Produces hormones that stimulate body heat production, bone growth, and the body’s metabolism
  • Parathyroids-Secretes a hormone that maintains calcium levels in the circulatory system
  • Thymus gland-Plays a role in the body’s immune system
  • Adrenal glands-Divided into 2 regions; secrete hormones that influence the body’s metabolism, blood chemicals and body characteristics, as well as influence the part of the nervous system that is involved in the response and defense against stress
  • Pancreas-Secretes a hormone (insulin) that controls the use of glucose by the body
  • Ovaries-Secrete hormones that influence female characteristics
  • Testicles-Secrete hormones that influence male characteristics

If any of these glands are not functioning the way they are supposed to, your body outwardly displays these problems through parts of us that essentially pertain to beauty standards (skin, hair, nails, sexual organs and our weight/body shape/size).  Maintaining a healthy endocrine system helps your body perform many of its vital functions, such as growth, development, reproduction and immunity. The endocrine system may also affect some aspects of personality and behavior. An unhealthy endocrine system can result in thyroid diseases, osteoporosis and a variety of other problems, both large and small.

Protect your endocrine system, health and overall appearance by:

  • Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet
  • Be aware of family history pertaining to endocrine problems and take preventative measures against those problems which could be hereditary
  • Find healthy ways to eliminate stress that can result in disorders or a weakened immune system
  • Take a daily vitamin or supplement such as Biotin or others that support endocrine system hormones and glands

Server Etiquette

When you go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant that’s supposed to provide a friendly staff who serves your food and beverages and caters to your every need pertaining to that experience, do you judge that restaurant experience prior to entering the building?  I’ve held the title ‘server’ at seven restaurants in the past six years and it seems as if more and more guests come in to order with a negative attitude and a less-than-full wallet.  Your restaurant experience will really come down to the type of dining atmosphere from which you are choosing: location, depth and variety of the menu, types of food on the menu and their market prices (compared to other restaurants that have similar food and claims), quality of the food and beverages, staff uniform, gender-specific staff, socio-economic and education expectations among staff and other guests, hygienic qualities of the staff, cleanliness of the bathrooms, dining rooms, utensils, dishes and any other paraphernalia that is supposed to complement the quality and standards of the restaurant.

Your server can be trained to accommodate guests’ expectations for any restaurant by shadowing other co-workers, adhering to managerial instruction, studying the food and drink menus, knowing what each dish looks like and what it comes with, practicing scripts to guests and sophistication (or not) of those one-fits-all scripts/ individual and personal treatment to tables, and by up-selling specialty food and drinks (the customer buys a speciality beverage or entree based on your recommendations and knowledge of the dish/drink).  With each new serving job, the management, duties and atmospheres seem to be polar opposites from the prior and succumb to inefficiency without corporate affiliation.

Regardless to what the server knows about how the restaurant is run, the guest should enter the restaurant, look around, read a menu and decide if that restaurant is a yes or no for that dining experience.  At that point, if your server is impressing you with skills, attitude and competency, YOU SHOULD NEVER LEAVE LESS THAN AN 18% GRATUITY.  A SERVER’S ABILITIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ABILITIES OF THE KITCHEN STAFF WHO PREPARED THE FOOD.  It is only the server’s responsibility to know what the food should look like, how they are supposed to serve that food, refill drinks when notified or noticed during a scanning round (casually looking around at your tables while they’re eating to see if they are low on anything/looks on their faces while eating/eyes searching for something or someone) and handling your money to pay for the bill.

***It is insulting to a server to receive lower than 18% if they’ve effectively performed everything listed above and gone above and beyond expectations, treating the guests like royalty.  We work hard for your tips doing absurd things other professions would never require and if you don’t have the money to tip 18% or more of the check, the solution is simple: DON’T EAT AT THAT RESTAURANT.  GO SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU CAN AFFORD TO TIP AT LEAST 18% AND THAT SERVER WILL BE PLEASED. ***

One last thing, your SERVER is not your SERVANT, so don’t treat them like one.  Use your manners and professional demeanor when out to eat.  Restaurants and their staff are businesses too.  

Haircare Promises

Have you ever paused in the shower to read the back of your shampoo/conditioner bottles and attempted to comprehend even one word of the active ingredients?  I have been jumping in between shampoo and conditioning systems lately based on advertisements I see for these brands because I simply don’t have the time to research individual ingredients across hundreds of brands.  I switched back to Pantene Pro-V from Garnier about a month ago and noticed that my hair now has more split ends in these 30 days than it has had in the past two years.  I became frustrated as I was going through my hair, dusting my split ends  and grabbed the Pantene volume bottle to comb through the ingredients and compare them to another set of shampoo/conditioner sitting in the shower (John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde).  

Almost every active ingredient ended with the word alcohol, acid or sulfate.  Right off the bat I internalized those words picturing a FirsAid kit, doctor’s office, laundry detergent and then chemical cleaners.  It turns out that sodium sulfates, alcohol, hydrogens and acids are all highly effective surfactants in the removal of oily stains and residues.  These compounds can be found in engine degreasers, floor cleaners, car wash soaps, pesticides, and ah yes, toothpastes, shampoos, shaving creams and bubble bath formulas for their abilities to effectively lather.  I can’t speak for other people but I was very uncomfortable with the fact that the products I’m using to clean my mouth, body and hair have the same ingredients found in harsh, dangerous chemical cleaners.  Women’s Health Magazine explains each common ingredient in shampoo and conditioner and why manufacturers need them to all balance each other out.

So what products are safe and trustworthy?  Top 10 picks by TotalBeauty readers:

  1. Arbonne FC5 Nourishing Shampoo
  2. Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo
  3. Kerastase Bain Oleo-Curl Shampoo
  4. Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Moisturizing Lather Shampoo
  5. Aubrey Organics Blue Chamomile Hydrating Shampoo
  6. Mizani Thermasmooth Shampoo
  7. Kerastase Bain Satin 2 Shampoo
  8. Beecology Natural Honey and Botanical Sulfate-Free Shampoo
  9. Dove Nourishing Oil Care Shampoo
  10. Giovanni Smooth as Silk Shampoo


“Skin Improving” Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy consists of exposure to daylight or to specific wavelengths of light using polychromatic, polarized light, lasers, light emitting diodes, fluorescent lamps, dichroic lamps or very bright full spectrum light, usually controlled with various devices.  The light is administered for a prescribed amount of time and, in some cases, at a specific time of day.  Light therapy is a common form of treatment for a variety of conditions from auto immune disorders like psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo to wound healing, depression, seasonal affective disorder and circadian rhythm sleep disorders.  Two forms of phototherapy exist, non-targeted phototherapy (from sunlight or a light box like those found at tanning salons), and targeted-phototherapy, in which light is administered to a specific, localized area of the skin.  Current targeted phototherapy is administered through excimer lasers, elemental gas lamps, or LED lights.

The FDA has cleared devices on the market including XTRAC excimer laser, BClear, Theralight, and Psoria-Light LED phototherapy.  Targeted phototherapy is administered in a doctor’s office and is only administered to the affected skin, not the entire body, thus sparing healthy skin from UV rays which may lead to other health issues including skin cancer.  While different wavelengths work for different conditions, treatment is most often done with narrow band UVB (NB-UVB) as this is the safest wavelength. Non-targeted phototherapy can be delivered at doctor’s office or at home via prescription using a booth, multidirectional unit, or wand; the unaffected skin is simply covered. Several devices are FDA-approved for home including the Panosol 3D, Richmond Light and Solarc Handheld.  

Red light easily penetrates the skin and boosts circulation, releasing more blood and nutrients to the area. It also stimulates vital collagen and elastin production; collagen helps plump the skin, while elastin firms the skin. The red light is energizing as it repairs damaged cells and restores skin back to its youthful look.


  • Reduction in wrinkles and fine lines
  • Tightening and firming (non-surgical face lift alternative)
  • Reduction or complete loss of blemishes and redness
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Reduces sun and age spots
  • Corrects hyperpigmentation on face, hands, neck
  • Improves/diminishes severe acne and acne scars
  • Can drastically reduce the appearance of cellulite with continued sessions

Look Your Best, Feel Your Best: Say No to Ratchet

#Ratchet: a word that has recently developed in our culture to describe a woman who doesn’t dress with class or sophistication, practices poor hygiene and makes tacky, uneducated decisions.  Ratchet is not a word to be proud of and the rise of social media just points out more and more of these scenarios that can be easily avoided.  Ladies, if you have the money and resources to take care of yourself, PLEASE DO for all our sakes and reputations.  Even those of you who think you don’t have the money to sacrifice on your personal appearance, there are ways around the ratchet routine.  I will personally share some pointers for those of you ballin’ on a strict budget.

  • If you aren’t washing your hair and body everyday because you need to lower your water bill, don’t have time to or can’t waste money on shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razors, body wash, etc. there are plenty of ways to keep a clean appearance and fresh smell.
  1. DRY SHAMPOO: Pick up a Dove or TRESemee dry shampoo from Wal-Mart for $5 or less.  Dry shampoo is a spray shampoo or powder that you rub throughout your roots and ends of unwashed hair to absorb oil and give a clean appearance.  If you don’t like the dry shampoo or can’t afford it, sprinkle a baby powder through your roots and work it through thoroughly to absorb oil.
  2. TOOTHPASTE W/ BAKING SODA: Toothpaste is only a few dollars, sometimes less.  You can pick up a toothbrush at the dollar store and brush your teeth at least twice a day with a whitening toothpaste like Arm&Hammer’s Extreme Whitening (or the generic) to effectively lift stains and keep breath fresh without purchasing scope or whitening strips.
  3. DEODORANT: You need to apply deodorant every day after cleansing your armpits with soap or a wipe to rid and mask unpleasant, overbearing body odor.  Try to buy a scented deodorant (spray or roll-on) if you can’t afford a body spray or perfume so you stay fresh and smell decent.
  4. BABY WIPES: If you don’t have time/can’t afford to wash your body everyday with a body wash, buy a large package of generic baby wipes from the dollar store and wipe your body down head to toe before getting dressed to remove dirt, oil and odor.
  5. RAZORS: If you aren’t going to shave an area on your body, don’t show it off!  Simple as that!  Purchase disposable razors and use them twice or a razor with a built-in shaving cream to cut shaving time in half and reduce costs of both shaving creams and razors

Amateur or Professional in the Workplace: You Decide

I started a new job last weekend in a fine dining restaurant called Annie’s, located in Stevensville, Maryland.  Annie’s staff is supposed to be sophisticated, classy, knowledgable, friendly and satisfactory to every customer that enters and is willing to spend around $30 on an entree.  After two short training shifts last weekend for serving and one training shift for food running/expediting Friday, I was thrown to the wolves last night.  I mean literally, thrown to the wolves: my coworkers (and customers) proved to be rather vicious, arrogant, belittling and completely unsupportive of myself and each other.

I know comparing an upscale restaurant staff to innovative, college educated, salaried employees who build, uphold and represent a branded corporation isn’t the best analogy to preach professionalism in the workplace but every business can benefit from these tips by the Monster Career Coach.

1. Competence. You’re good at what you do – and you have the skills and knowledge that enable you to do your job well.

2. Reliability. People can depend on you to show up on time, submit your work when it’s supposed to be ready, etc.

3. Honesty. You tell the truth and are upfront about where things stand.

4. Integrity. You are known for your consistent principles.

5. Respect For Others. Treating all people as if they mattered is part of your approach.

6. Self-Upgrading. Rather than letting your skills or knowledge become outdated, you seek out ways of staying current.

7. Being Positive. No one likes a constant pessimist. Having an upbeat attitude and trying to be a problem-solver makes a big difference.

8. Supporting Others. You share the spotlight with colleagues, take time to show others how to do things properly, and lend an ear when necessary.

9. Staying Work-Focused. Not letting your private life needlessly have an impact on your job, and not spending time at work attending to personal matters.

10. Listening Carefully. People want to be heard, so you give people a chance to explain their ideas properly.

If you treat people around you with disrespect, keep them waiting unnecessarily, steal their thunder by using their ideas without giving them credit, say one thing then do the complete opposite, break promises regularly and are pessimistic/unsupportive of those around you, YOU ARE BEING UNPROFESSIONAL.

Abnormal Eating Habits 101

“Ok, this is it.  This is the month I’m going to do it.  I’m going to diet, eat healthy and workout for that body I want.  Oh my god that brownie was good.  Er, I mean, four brownies.  Ok, those four brownies were great.  Wait, four?  That’s like thousands of calories, what was I thinking?!  Oh god I’m not eating anything else today, that’s it.  Man I’m starving from not eating all day.  Maybe a few crackers will hold me over.  How many hand fuels did I just eat?!  Seriously?  I just ingested 100 grams of carbs!  Not cool, I better run it off.”  If a similar scenario keeps playing out in your head and you are constantly worrying about food and body image, you may be suffering from an eating disorder.

How do I know if I have an eating disorder and what could it be?

  • Anorexia nervosa: When you have anorexia nervosa (an-o-REK-see-uh nur-VOH-suh), you’re obsessed with food and being thin, sometimes to the point of deadly self-starvation.
  • Bulimia nervosa: When you have bulimia, you have episodes of bingeing and purging. During these episodes, you typically eat a large amount of food in a short duration and then try to rid yourself of the extra calories through vomiting or excessive exercise. You may be at a normal weight or even a bit overweight.
  • Binge-eating disorder: When you have binge-eating disorder, you regularly eat excessive amounts of food (binge), but don’t try to compensate for this behavior with exercise or purging as someone with bulimia or anorexia might. You may eat when you’re not hungry and continue eating even long after you’re uncomfortably full. After a binge, you may feel guilty or ashamed, which can trigger a new round of bingeing. You may be a normal weight, overweight or obese.

When to see a doctor

  • If you feel ashamed, sad, hopeless, drained, irritable and anxious.
  • You’re experiencing a host of physical problems such as irregular heartbeats, fatigue, and bowel or menstrual troubles


It’s OK to Talk About It


At some point in our lives, we all experience the common feelings of grief and distress caused by stressful or upsetting circumstances involving our loved ones.  That ‘sick to your stomach’ feeling; the constant worrying, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, deep sighing and nail biting that accompanies a misfortune such as debt, illness, unlawful wrong-doings, disappearances and death.  In my 23 years, I have been lucky enough to hold on to most of the people I love and care about and was too young to understand and comprehend what this ‘death’ thing truly meant when family passed.  November 2013 was the first time I lost a good friend; not to illness or the hands of anyone else but by her own hands, when she overdosed on heroin.

Last Saturday, we said goodbye and laid to rest the remains of Courtland Lambert, my best friend’s boyfriend.  Courtland disappeared on March 19th leaving his phone, wallet, vehicle and a note for his parents saying he was sorry if he ever hurt and lied to them; the only item he did take with him was the shotgun that his step-father had bought for him years ago and was reported missing the day of his disappearance.  When police decided to search the woods behind the residence once more the following week, they found Courtland’s body with his head blown to bits from his shotgun.  His life was an undetected, ticking time-bomb created by years of silent pains, worries, troubles and anger kept deep inside until explosively ignited by a DUI he received the week before he went missing.  For a week straight, our efforts to rack our brains and memories for any clues or answers that could bring him back to us were greeted with shock and despair, rather than comfort and joy.

When the word spread about Courtland’s suicide, Trisha was bombarded with flowers, ‘sorry for your loss’ cards, texts and friend requests from strangers seeking information, attention and affiliation.  All of these people tried to be involved and show support as a community but in no way could relate to or imagine the pain Trisha was, is and going to be in for the rest of her life as the soon-to-be fiancé to the sweet, handsome genius who seemingly had everything going for him.  It is my privilege and duty as her soul sister to be her shoulder to cry on and person to vent to and express whatever emotion arises.  It’s very relieving and healthy that Trisha is open to talking with family and close friends about feelings associated with Courtland and Amy’s deaths but a fragile person can always benefit from seeing a therapist.

  • Grief, depression and anxiety can lead to missed work, excessive smoking and drinking, and increased risk of developing high blood pressure, a heart attack or even becoming suicidal
  • If you or someone you know is displaying suicidal behaviors, call the 24 hour Life Crisis hotline to speak with a trained professional right away who can provide you with crisis intervention and suicide prevention any time, any day of the year

Look and Dress for Success

There’s no better way to show off a hard-earned body than with this season’s latest fashion trends.  Express is kicking the spring line off by mixing tribal details and floral prints.  “Embroidered shorts, beaded sandals and breezy tops transport your state of mind to someplace tropical.”  The way you dress is a reflection of yourself and can say a lot about you to peers and prospective employers.  A great way to make a bold statement that reflects your personal style is to dress in a way that reflects your cultures and different heritages in a modern fashion.  I have Cherokee Indian in my bloodline from both sides of my family so I could easily incorporate feathers, leather and beads into my clothing and jewelry.  

Evidence suggests that society tends to attribute to those who are physically attractive the added qualities of sociability, friendliness, and competence. The appropriate standards for appearance are measured and dictated by societal norms, for which white culture often serves as a reference. Those who don’t measure up to society’s norms of aesthetics, appearance, and grooming are often perceived as ‘lazy, incompetent, and less productive’. Not only do these implicit biases affect social interactions, they also affect one’s ability to obtain employment. Employers often use appearance as a signal of an employee’s qualifications and even after hiring decisions are made, they continue to regulate the appearance of their employees through dressing and grooming policies.

Here’s a few tips for the next time you leave the house ready to take on the world:

  • Keep your hair looking natural.  You aren’t limited to the hair color you were born with but streaky, broken-off, grown out color is distracting and unpleasing to look at when talking to someone.  Keep all exposed areas clean, hydrated and shaved.
  • Always check magazines, social media sites, idea sites like Pinterest for the latest trends and styles.
  • Make sure the makeup on your face matches the current skin color of your neck and hands (or as close of a match as you can) and avoid overuse of tacky colors in eye makeup choices.  Follow makeup artists on YouTube to correctly apply a fresh and vibrant look.


What’s a healthy weight goal for you??

As bikini season approaches, women across the country are starving themselves or dieting like crazy to shed their winter coats.  Many take it to the next extreme to lose the weight in time which can endanger health and cause for a relapse of extreme binge eating.  Regular bing eating can lead to:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Sleep apnea

 The best way to figure out how much weight to lose for your body type will depend on how you were your senior year of high school.  Most people are fully grown for a couple of years at that age and physically fit from sports or activities.  If you wore a women’s size 00 pants your senior year of high school then there is no reason you can’t strive for that 108 pound body again and reasonably obtain that goal over a two or three month period.  However if you were a women’s size 6 pant in high school and were active playing sports, that’s the size your body is at its most healthy weight.  You should never malnourish your body.

If you can afford it, try a healthly meal plan for two months like NutriSystem or Shakeology.  Both of these systems are designed to be low in carbs and high in protein and fiber, helping you lose weight consistently and safely.  Take a personal challenge to avoid all junk food and cravings everyday for two months; reduce cravings by chewing sugarless gum or drinking water when tempted.  I recommend Extra Dessert flavored gum to simulate the sensation of indulging in real treats without actually doing so.  Calculate your BMI and follow guidelines to reduce it to the recommended 18.5 %.  Use a daily moisturizer with Vitamin E and shea butter to reduce the chance of stretchmarks during weight loss and to protect against dry skin as you expose more of your body in the upcoming months.