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.

I’m All Tanned Out

For the last nine years of my life, I have been tan for at least three months out the year.  My sister and I decided over winter break that we were going to quit tanning for good and resort to vigorous skin and sun protection routines year round.   I haven’t been applying sunscreen every day yet but plan to cover myself head to toe as the weather gets warmer and I wear less layers.  We both have noticeable sun-kissed appearances with our freckles and natural yellowish tints but we’ve recently seen that sun damage is no joke.  My mother and grandparents have all consistently had cancerous skin removed and in Mom’s case, a great deal of it is because she didn’t tan safely over 20 plus years ago.

A 2002 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that using indoor tanning devices increased the risk of skin cancers – 2.5 times for squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times for basal cell carcinoma – compared with nonusers.  It is estimated that 2.3 million teens visit a tanning salon at least once a year; I used to be one of them.  Unprotected outdoor tanning also increases your chances of developing melanoma, premature aging of the skin and wrinkles.  I just turned 23 and that means 30 is right down the road; if I want to look my best, I need to stop further damage in its tracks.  I want to look at this as a positive experience and embrace the consequences of giving up bronzed skin for more youthful looking skin in ten years.

All the positives to giving up tanning:

  • Get to sit under an umbrella at the beach
  • You can wear that adorable oversized hat to shade your face
  • Rock the best sunglasses
  • Can finally read some good books on the beach again without profusely sweating and dehydrating
  • Can finally wear hippie jewelry with my bathing suit to the beach
  • Protecting eyes from developing cataracts
  • Protecting skin from melanoma, wrinkles and dark spots
  • Skin won’t be used to make leather boots in 30 years 🙂

A Fur Person a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!


I don’t prefer to use the term “pet” when referring to my dog or cat because I, like many other modern Americans, see them instead as members of the family.  I consider my cat, Oscar, to be my son and my sister’s pitbull, Rillo, my niece.  My parents even refer to themselves as ‘Nana’ and ‘Popsy’ when talking to or about Rillo, and she soaks in this coded language and forms her own vocabulary by association.  Animals may not be able to speak our language but they are excellent at picking up on our verbal and nonverbal cues which in turn guide their behavior.  Research has concluded that the best explanation for dogs’ specialized social skills is that they evolved as a consequence of dogs having been domesticating by humans, representing a case of convergent cognitive evolution.

I believe cats posses these same capabilities but are more independent by nature than dogs and therefore follow social cues when they deem it necessary for affection or their own self gratification.  If Oscar wants to go outside and hunt for the day, he starts purring loudly at 4 am, rubbing his face on mine to make sure I’m up and responding to his affection.  If I don’t get up to let him outside, he jumps on my dresser and starts pushing various figurines on the floor, staring at me in the eyes with each swipe of his paw until I leave my bed.  Anyone that has a pet knows the routines and cues they’ve developed for telling their human counterpart something they need or want, and in turn, we accept this as normal communicative behavior between us and our furry family members.

But what you might not know is that owning a pet has been proven beneficial to people’s mental, physical and emotional health.  Check out Animal Planet’s Top 5 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet to read the details explaining why an animal a day can keep the doctor away:

  1. Breathe Easier: Having a pet in the home lowers the risk of developing related allergies by as much as 33%
  2. Meet and Greet: Animals can act as instant ice breakers in conversation
  3. Stay Heart Healthy: Pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels–minimizing risks for heart attacks down the road
  4. Get a Move On: Dogs need exercise so walking them regularly keeps the weight off you as well
  5. Keep Your Chin Up: Pets provide companionship, boosting feelings of joy and happiness (especially for sick and elderly patients)

A Common Ancestor


How do you view and comprehend the unexpected events that life throws at you?  God’s plan, coincidence, fate or just random destined moments passing through space and time?  In 2012, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religious and Public Life  survey revealed that, of the 46 million unaffiliated (no religious affiliation) American  adults surveyed, more than half reported a deep connection with nature and earth, and 37 percent claimed they were “spiritual but not religious.”  In the same survey, 34 percent said they were spiritual and 38 percent said they believe in “God or a universal spirit.”  In short, a substantial portion of atheists and nonreligious report spiritual feelings (Cragun, 2014).

Spirituality can be believing you have a spiritual connection with other people, believing there is some form of higher power or believing that there is some form of afterlife; all of these beliefs can be held without any institutional affiliation with a religion.  A growing wave of research suggests that religion and spirituality may help some people better cope with illness, depression and stress.  Several medical studies show a connection between religious beliefs or practices and a decreased risk of self-destructive behaviors such as smoking, substance abuse and suicide.  Perhaps the reasoning behind these findings is that feeling connected with nature and the world around you helps you find inner peace and appreciate quality of life in a world of unpredicted chaos.  Spirituality and religion then, can be seen as strong predictors of and provide valuable insight into a person’s or society’s state of mental health.

If reality is defined through the individual’s eyes, cultures, personal values, beliefs and life experiences, we are creating billions of intertwining collective realities that all somehow affect each other.  Our own reality greatly shapes choices and options we see available for taking or avoiding.  If every person on this planet could put aside their differences and pre-existing notions to think about the meaning of life from this perspective, world peace might be more possible than ever before.  Humans could learn to be codependent on each other and the natural world instead of constantly competing for resources and individual success.  When are we all going to realize that every living thing on this planet came from one common ancestor?  Theory or not, evolution makes more sense than all the world’s religions combined.

Detox Diet Vs. Clean Eating

“The idea that your body needs help getting rid of toxins has no basis in human biology,” says Frank Sacks, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health. “Your organs and immune system handle those duties, no matter what you eat”. A detox diet may be a quick and temporary solution for losing weight but you’re likely to gain the weight back after you go off of it, as with any extreme diet.   I’ve heard of detox diets like drinking nothing but water with lemon juice and cayenne pepper for a week straight but to not consume any calories or nutrients all week sounds absurd to me.  This is the week everyone should be eating their healthiest, avoiding alcohol and drinking plenty of liquids to avoid bloating, cellulite, extra pounds and thin skin.

So rather than invest in a diet where you practically starve yourself, try a clean eating or organic diet for the week.  Shape Magazine’s Cynthia Sass recommends this seven day clean eating challenge to bring you ‘skyrocketing energy’, weight loss, better control over your appetite and yes, better looking skin.  Follow these 5 simple rules to slim down and feel your best before spring break:

  1. Eat only whole foods: If a food contains any ingredient you can’t pronounce or don’t know what it is, don’t buy it for the week you eat clean.  Ex: Blueberries and oats instead of a blueberry muffin
  2. Keep meals simple.  Your body only needs sources like whole grain, lean protein and healthy fat during each meal.  Ex: Veggies and shrimp over rice
  3. Eat slower.  Put your fork or spoon down during every bite and actually enjoy the different tastes and textures instead of inhaling your food like you’re in a hotdog race.
  4. Eat on a regular schedule.  Sass suggests not letting more than 4 hours go by between each meal to better regulate your digestive system, blood sugar, insulin levels and appetite.
  5. Listen to your body.  Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

You’ll thank yourself for eating healthy all week when you have a slim stomach on the beach and more energy to cram spring break activities.

Bring Back the Wii!

Remember when the Nintendo Wii first came out and everybody had so much fun playing the virtual games and sports? The Wii popularity seemed to die down with the rise of Play Station 3 and the XBox 360, shifting the role of millenium video games from physical activity immersion to strategy building and problem solving.  I still use my Wii to watch Netflix but hardly play my Wii Sports or Wii Fit games anymore.  My roommates and I decided to play some Wii boxing and bowling against each other before going out this weekend.  I was so absorbed in my first boxing match that one round turned into about 15.  I was uppercutting, jabbing, throwing right hooks and ducking from my opponent with as much force as I  would have exerted in a real fight.

The next morning I woke so sore and weak that I could barely lift my cellphone off my nightstand to silence my alarm clock.  I felt every muscle in my back, neck, shoulders, arms and abs sore and throbbing from my boxing match.  The Wii Fit games are actually targeted to weight loss and physical activity goals; you can choose a personal trainer to instruct you as you perform yoga, balance, running, etc moves on your Wii Fit board.  Wii Fit weighs you at the start of your personalized program and helps you plan your activity and weight loss each week over the course of a month or however long you expect to shed the weight.

The Wii console, unlike the PS3 or XBox games that use headsets to keep the players connected during online play, requires that players be in the same room with each other using their own remotes to compete against each other on the same TV.  Playing together in person creates actual bonding time between players who are usually close friends or acquaintances in real life.  Do you even know who your closest comrade ‘Commander Eagle Eye’ is in actuality when you play Call of Duty with him on PS3 or what he looks like?  I suppose it’s all preference but I think the Wii makes for a more entertaining and personal video game experience.

Prevention During Spring Break

For you few lucky college students who are traveling in a few weeks for spring break, the goal is to have fun and keep your bodies nourished and protected while you do it.  The number one rule of going anywhere warm and sunny is obviously SUNSCREEN.  Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention – about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.  In a rigorous study of more than 1,600 adults over the course of a decade, researchers determined that subjects applying sunscreen with an SPF of 16 daily reduced their risk of melanoma by 50 percent (Sunscreen Safety: The Reality).

My second rule to laying out in the sun all day and for that matter, performing any physical activity under the hot sun, requires drinking extra water and eating lush foods like fruits and vegetables that contain high percentages of water.  Dehydration can cause problems like swollen feet, headaches or life-threatening conditions like heat strokes.  I suggest wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect delicate facial skin from sun spots, wrinkles and leathery skin down the road.

Sticking to your workout routine over any kind of vacation can be very challenging once you’re faced with all the sweet cocktails, good food, beach merriment and night clubs on your vacation but it’s possible to avoid any extra weight gain.  Wake up early and eat the good kinds of carbs and protein like eggs, bacon and whole wheat toast before going on an inspirational run on the beach for 30 minutes.  In addition to your cardio run, here’s a powerful 30 minute workout from Health Magazine you can do without gym equipment; a perfect vacation solution to keep the weight off while you party.

  • 2 minutes of jumping jacks
  • Side lunges w/ 5-8 pound dumbbells for 24 reps, each leg
  • Dancing squats w/ 8 pound dumbbell for 24 reps, each leg
  • Line hops or jump rope for 2 minutes
  • ‘Tipsy’ Bridge and Lift for 24 repps, each side
  • Biceps and Arm Circles w/ 5-8 pound dumbbells for 16 reps, each arm
  • Fast Feet for 2 minutes
  • Triceps w/ a Twist using 8-10 pound dumbbells for 24 reps, each side
  • Supermans (aka Roll Over and Sit Ups) for 16 reps back and stomach
  • Cross Crawl for 2 minutes

Stretch it out and you’re done, ready to relax and carry on with your festivities!

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