reflection: what we lose when we choose convenience

A huge thank you to Mariana Heredia for editing this piece with elegance and grace. Mariana is the founder of Fenix, a company with a mission to create a viable business model for the journalism industry. Click here to discover the badassery that is Fenix.

We live in a time where nearly everything around us is built to be consumed, used, or enjoyed at our earliest convenience. We don’t have to go to a restaurant to pick up food, we don’t have to learn the language of a land to experience it, and we don’t have to talk to someone—or even meet them, really—to decide whether they are “worthy” of our time. We can simply follow or unfollow, swipe left or swipe right, use google translate, or order in.

There is no doubt that we are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to live in an age where technology has made the world and its possibilities seem endless and ever-growing. Perhaps those that came before us could only dream of connecting with people across the world with the touch of a button. With that convenience, though, there’s a question that immediately pops into my head: Could the growing expectation of seamless, quick experiences harm us down the line?

My friends and I look back at times when we had to print out boarding passes or flip our phones open to answer them, and we laugh. “How did we live through that with what we have now?” Ironically, my parents say the same thing about how they used to live, as do their parents, and so on. 

I’d argue we “survived” these times simply because that’s all we had, so we reached for acceptance. It was hard to build an expectation about how things “should be” if they didn’t exist yet. Can we really know what we’re missing if we haven’t experienced it? 

As I type these words, I’m on a plane from Europe to New York City. I hold traveling close to my heart for many reasons, and I believe going to foreign places allows you to see ways of living that are different from your own experience. Through the exposure of another culture, we gain the ability to cultivate compassion for others and reflect on our parallel and contrasting morals. This trip has allowed me to revisit how my time is spent. It has made me wonder why I’m always in such a rush, and what I’m losing when I opt-out for convenience.

The most relaxing, enriching experiences of this trip were those that were not rushed. They were even inconvenient, ironically. When I took my time to pause, digest, be patient, and reflect, the world spoke to me from where I stood. I didn’t need to be anywhere faster, make things easier, or change anything, really. I was just being. The value placed on simple living and acknowledging that precious traditions, foods, and conversations cannot (and should not be) rushed is something that the concept of, “convenience is better” completely dilutes. During these experiences, time seemed to be valued for what it was, and there wasn’t such a heavy emphasis on spending it wisely.

As a result of having an expectation of how things “should be”, I have shown little patience for how things actually are. There is no compassion for the reality that the most beautiful things are often worth taking slow or waiting for. With that waiting comes the possibility of failure, of trying again, or of putting a lot of time towards something. But honestly…what’s so wrong with that? When I reflect on the most valuable things in my life—my meditation practice, my relationships with others, my health, and my passions—they’re all things that cannot be rushed or manipulated to be digested at my earliest convenience.

In this moment, I urge you to lean into the time and tools you have in front of you now rather than seeking the quickest, least painful solution. I urge you to walk through your life with a sense of ease and spaciousness, rather than aggression. With space, we gift ourselves the ability to see beyond walls built through ignorance, insecurity, and fear. With space, we can breathe, and we can see what we really need. It may be inconvenient, but it may also be worth it.

reflection: The importance of reaching for compassion, even when you don’t want to.

This piece is dedicated to my fierce, fearless friend Ian Callahan. Thank you for giving me the space to dissect the many levels and layers of compassion while loving me unconditionally through the process. I love you.

In my experience, feeling sadness or anger frequently indicates a deep desire to connect.

I’d even go as far as saying that sometimes, I use sorrow and rage as masks, hoping they’ll camouflage the deep longing to be loved that’s hiding underneath.

Anger has a funny way of providing us with a false sense of control and protection over the undeniable vulnerability that comes with wanting to be loved, and sadness gives us an excuse to refrain from any type of connection at all. In the midst of these emotions, my inner dialogue goes as follows: “I’m going to control this situation because I’m angry and I will make sure this doesn’t happen again,” or, “I’m too sad for this, I’ve given up, and I’m going to isolate myself so this won’t happen again.”

Different tactics, different emotions, same reasons: Protection from pain and freedom from suffering.

For me, breakups are when I get those “you’ll get what you deserve” or “our suffering is not the same” feelings. And, quite frankly, prior to learning about what compassion is and why it’s so damn important, after being hurt time and time again, I eventually became convinced that the only way to escape the pain I was feeling was to inflict it onto the person who had caused it.

This attempt to hurt those who I thought wronged me manifested in different ways: demanding an apology, seeking revenge, holding a grudge, or having that, “final conversation” over and over again. (Spoiler alert: That conversation never goes as planned, and puts the healing process to an abrupt halt.) I now realize that what I thought was “revenge” was really just my desperate need to gain the sort of closure I felt I needed to move on. To lick my wounds. To get a sense of freedom from the physical and emotional weight that accompanies betrayal, confusion, and loss.

If you’ve ever felt like the only way to relieve yourself of this weight is to avoid it or pass it onto someone or something else, you’re not alone. In her book, Lovingkindness, The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, Sharon Salzberg discusses this recycled resentment. She writes:

“Anger and aversion express themselves in acts of hostility and persecution. The mind becomes very narrow. It isolates someone or something, fixates on it, develops tunnel vision, sees no way out, fixes that experience, that person, or that object as being forever unchanging. Such aversion supports an endless cycle of harm and revenge.”  

Ironically, while learning this in my meditation teacher training, my first reaction to this view was anger. “So, what,” I thought, “Everyone’s off the hook? No one has to pay for what they’ve done? I’m supposed to feel happy all of the time, and that will stop the cycle of suffering?” I’ve gathered I’m not the only person who’s jumped to these conclusions, for Sharon provides guidance on this notion as well:

“How can we let go in this situation? How can we change it? We can focus our attention more on the suffering of the situation, both our own and the suffering of others, rather than our anger. We can ask ourselves who we are really angry at. Mostly what we are angry at is the anger in the other person. It is almost as if the other person were an instrument for the anger that moved through them and motivates them to act in unskillful ways.”

The point: When we’re feeling sad, angry, confused, or hurt towards another, we aren’t feeling it towards them. We are feeling it towards their sadness, anger, confusion, or hurt. Our pain is a direct result of their pain.

Maitrī meditation—also known as loving-kindness meditation—is a practice where you visually invite sentient beings of all kinds in and out of your mind’s eye. As they come and go, you wish them happiness, health, safety, and a feeling of ease. This includes beings you love, beings you don’t know, and beings you don’t like.

So, why the hell would you wish well to those who have hurt you? Why would you wish someone you could never imagine hurting the same thing as someone you’ve super blocked on all social media platforms? Because, chances are—though it may manifest in different ways—all of this suffering is stemming from a similar place, no matter who is experiencing it. This suffering includes yours, mine, people we dislike, people don’t know, and everyone in-between. That being said, despite our initial instinct to differentiate ourselves from others, place blame on people or circumstances around us over and over again, and cling onto revenge or closure—this view offers an alternative approach: compassion. Rather than choosing to react to anger and sadness with more anger and sadness, we pause to contemplate the origin of these emotions. If we pause, bring awareness to the emotions, and respond (rather than react) to them, THAT is compassion.

To clarify: Reaching for compassion does not mean we shove our feelings into a dark, secluded place so we don’t feel them, face them, and learn from them. Reaching for compassion does not mean we allow others to impose pain into our lives. It does not mean we are giving a stamp of approval for harmful gestures, we have to be best friends with people who have left scars on our hearts, or that everyone is “off the hook.” It means that compassion does not pick favorites. It means you can be compassionate towards another’s suffering without allowing them to hurt you, and it suggests that “the hook” is merely a constructed concept we sometimes create in attempt to hurt another and protect ourselves. Paradoxically, in doing so, we hurt ourselves more.

Wishing yourself happiness and health can be done despite your imperfections and the mistakes you’ve made. Wishing another person safety and a sense of ease can be done without interacting with them directly. It is this concept—that hatred can only end where love begins—that has the ability to see through walls we try to build in hopes of protecting ourselves. These walls are no different than masks of anger and sadness, disguising our exposed hearts.

Compassion has the ability to aid courage. This courage can break these walls, take off our masks, and allow us to love. For me, no matter how exposed I feel, that is what makes life worth living.

reflection: self-love vs. self-compassion

It took a grand total of fifteen minutes into my first week-long meditation retreat for me to come to an overwhelming realization: Self-love and self-compassion are different—and for years, I had practiced one without the other.

A photo my brother took one day before my retreat.

Upon arriving to Shambhala Mountain Center, my brother—who had graciously offered to give me a ride to the top of a mountain in Colorado—asked me where to park. 

“I don’t know,” I replied, “I’ve never been here before.”

“Well, you have a map, right?” he said.

Yes, I did have a map. It was given to me at check in, along with a list of other things I only half-heard because of how terrified I was; anticipating everything I was about to do that I’ve never done before. (Meditate for around eight hours a day and be without my phone for a week, to name a few.)

As soon as I felt the words, “I don’t know how to read it,” bubble up inside of me, a harsh, unapologetic voice in my head interrupted the thought:

“Seriously? You didn’t even try to figure it out.” 

The voice was familiar, for I have heard it before. That sort of winey, self-critical version of me that doesn’t feel like me, but lives in my head. When I hear it, (because I still do), I often think of people who come to parties without an invitation; showing up unannounced, speaking shamelessly without hesitation, and lingering around afterwards for what feels like forever.

Though I had heard this voice before, it seemed louder this time. All of a sudden, instead of a winey whisper I could shew away, it was dominating my internal dialogue. As time went by, it got worse.

“Don’t unpack that way, people will think you’re a snobby New Yorker. HIDE YOUR BABY BLANKET, ARE YOU FIVE? Why did you choose these pants today?”

I had familiarized myself with this voice for as long I could remember, yet the nature of being on retreat—i.e., being stripped of external distractions like work or relationships—made it feel like someone had robbed me of the mental air-bags I created for myself overtime. I was face to the dashboard smacked with my own self-hatred.

Usually, when this self-critical nature would arise, I would immediately push it away. OR, I’d create a narrative around it that looked something along the lines of, “Yes, that is true. You are all of those horrible things, and now you’re going to fixate on that and feel bad about it all day.” (Insert evil laugh here.)

As she led us through the first of many sits ahead, one of our teachers, Susan Piver, explained to myself and other students that meditation has the ability to aid the curation of compassion for both ourselves and others. The days went on, and she, alongside teachers Kevin Townley and Crystal Gandrud, continued to remind us about the importance of finding ways to bring compassion into our lives, for it allows for one to experience day-to-day occurrences with a gentler approach, both on and off the cushion.

By the third day of retreat, the volume of my internal critic had become so loud it seemed like it was all I could hear. I felt sadness and confusion more than anything; for as a teacher and coach in the wellness space, self-love had been something I had studied, practiced, and taught for years. How could I love myself so much yet still feel this way?

Throughout the week, we broke off into discussion groups that were monitored by one of three instructors leading retreat. In fear of losing my shit due do a combination of boredom and what felt like pure insanity, I decided to listen to the suggestions the instructors gave my peers when they had confronted what they viewed as mental obstacles. After all, my initial tactic of seeing my self-hate talk, condemning the thoughts, pushing them away, and coming back to my breath was only making me feel worse.

In our first round of break out groups, a student explained that she was unable to focus on meditating because she couldn’t stop planning. No matter what she’d do, her mind would always start to rehearse the different scenarios that could happen in the next few months of her life. “I’ve planned months and months ahead yet I’m unable to find my breath and be in the present,” she explained.

Our teacher sat up straight and began to act excited.

“So, what do you have planned?” she said.

“What?”

“Well, you’ve spent hours and hours planning. Got anything good?”

The woman laughed and began to tell the group about all of the yoga studios she planned on trying and the places she’d like to visit. Once she finished, our teacher suggested something that affected me in ways I now find hard to put into words, even though they weren’t directed at me.

“I wonder what would happen if you just let yourself do it,” she said.

“Do what?”

“Plan.”

The room was silent. The teacher raised her eyebrows. “Keep us posted.”

Here I was, waiting for Crystal to give the student an antidote for her thoughts, and to my surprise, she suggested the opposite. A, “let it happen, reach for compassion, and see what’s to come,” approach. It seemed like the only thing I hadn’t tried.

 In that moment I wondered about my own situation. What would happen if I just, “let myself do it”? What would happen if I stopped making my thoughts a monster I had to run away from, an obstacle I had to overcome, or a part about myself I had to fix?

So, I tried it. I sat my ass on the cushion, and for 20 minutes (or ten years?) I let my mind go to the same place I had initially avoided with every fiber in my body. Horrible, dark, sad thoughts came, accompanied by feelings of gloom and guilt. Then they passed. Then then came, and then they passed again.

Now, before you think, “Duh, that’s what thoughts do…come and go,” I invite you to pause and reflect on your relationship with your thoughts. In my experience, even if they eventually pass, certain subjects feel so real in the moment; like there’s a story behind them that has been or could be…something. Anything. Anything but what’s actually happening. 

The only way I can describe what happened in that moment is this: I allowed myself to go into a place of dark thoughts, only to then find that after some time, nothing was actually there but just that: thoughts. My thoughts weren’t my reality, they were just in my head.  

I took this photo one day after I finished retreat.
I keep it as a little reminder to be more kind towards myself.

By allowing these thoughts to surface and exist rather than push them aside, I was able to give them space to be, feel the feelings they prompted, and let them go. And, after letting go over and over again, to my surprise, compassion began to appear. A sort of, “it’s okay if they come again, you’ll be fine, I love you,” soft tone that stemmed from the heart, rather than the mind became present.

Has my internal-hate talk stopped appearing, post-retreat? No. Do all of a sudden, I feel great when it does, rather than sad or ashamed? Also no. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that with patience, practice, and trust, compassion towards oneself has the ability to loosen what was once a tightly coiled narrative. It has the ability to soften sharp edges of the mind, and open places of the heart that closed for all of eternity. Dramatic I know; but from my experience, true.

With that, I ask you: What would happen if you let yourself do it?

reflection: my relationship with instagram

I can easily pinpoint the first few moments I realized I felt disconnected from my “social media self.” In these moments, I was starting to connect with my authentic self. Or, for better lack of words, I was connecting to my heart and spirit.

In May of 2018 my dear friend Hayden and I traveled to Southeast Asia for about two weeks. In the beginning of our trip, at the end of each night, we engaged in what we later coined as “PT,” an abbreviation for the phrase, “Phone Time.” This was our cute way to avoid feeling guilty for taking a chunk of our night to call friends and family, send photos of ourselves kissing rescued elephants to interested parties, and post how much fun we were having on social media.

We spent the final days of our trip in Bali, Indonesia. I had heard of Bali’s spiritual reputation, and though I definitely craved that inner connection with something deeper than my mind, (or, what some would identify as my ego), I had no idea how much of a lasting effect it would have on the way I live my life and look at the world.

Needless to say, once we arrived to our Airbnb in Bali, “PT” became nearly nonexistent. Of course, we took photos of beautiful monuments and moments so we’d have them to reflect on and reminisce about later. We posted things on social media here and there, but it definitely felt forced. (Probably because it kind of was…shout out to mom and grandma, my most loyal followers to date.)

Here’s the thing: It wasn’t the literal photo-taking and documenting that changed. It was the “need” and anxiety I had placed onto myself to document everything I was doing that began to fade. And, whether what we were experiencing was as spiritual as a bath at a temple or as casual as a walk around the city of Ubud, we were both in such emotional awe by the end of the day that our nights were mostly spent in silence. Sitting, starting, letting whatever we had experienced marinate into our brains and wash over us like water.

Though this “need to document” perspective shift slowly started during the trip, I didn’t realize it was happening until I landed in the US and slowly got back into my routine. Coffee with friends, teaching classes and workshops, dinner dates downtown. Each time I’d do something of the sort, it felt different. I now realize this alteration of my reality existed because I was just experiencing my experiences.

I know it sounds simple, yet I’m convinced that because concepts like this ooze with simplicity, they are often mistaken for insignificant. That was the case for me, at least.

When I say, “experiencing my experiences,” I mean being fully present in the moment and not thinking about how I could curate it later to look better than it actually was. (Because apparently, it was never good enough? Odd, isn’t it?) It was almost as if every moment of my life—both big and small—became so much more precious to me, that in all honesty, what I really wanted to do was the opposite of share it. I wanted to desperately hold on to every second and interaction I had, as if they would become polaroids in my mind for only myself and others involved, or, as if I would never get them back. Which, when I reread that sentence, is kind of true; but I’ve gradually learned to repackage this concept in a way that doesn’t terrify me. (Though it scared the shit out of me to type just now.)

Since this realization, I’ve gone through many phases with my phone and technology in general. We’ve been in love, we’ve taken breaks, we’ve been obsessive, and we’ve been both toxic and healing for each other. This was the most colorful relationship I’d ever had with an object (rather than a person), and up to this point, I had worked really hard to leave corporate America and build a brand from my phone. With that, I decided to step back and take a deeper look into what the f was REALLY going on.

Enlisting in the MNDFL Meditation Teacher Training in the fall of 2018, deepening my meditation practice, and having the good fortune of learning from some incredible teachers has gifted me the ability to, as my mentor Kevin Townley beautifully puts it, “sharpen the blade of awareness.” I am now aware that this ever-changing relationship with social media directly reflects my relationship with myself. And I—like everything around me—am changing and will continue to do so. That’s the terrifying, yet liberating reality we live in.

A photo taken by my lovely roommate just a day after my first night of teacher training.

To help with the anxiety of what I think I “should” be doing and discouraging thoughts of what I could have done differently, I try to come back to the “why” of everything I do, over and over again. I understand and am thankful for the ability to build community, connect with people around the world, and potentially have the opportunity to help others like the teachers and mentors in my life that have helped me. Yes, the gross, sticky feeling of resentment towards social media and anything of the sort comes and goes, just like it does in regards to my relationship with myself. Some days we’re a team. Other days, it feels like I can’t catch a break from my own mind, so I lash out at lovers, friends, society, and in this case, social media, to make myself feel better.

With time and practice, I trust that though these thoughts and feelings may never completely go away, their impressions on my present moment will become more manageable, therefore, they won’t seem so, “fight or flight.” In my experience, it’s rarely a do or die situation, anyway.

To anyone who reads this: We are all wishing for similar things. Mine, in this case, was being freed from suffering caused by my own perception of something that has actually helped me. Know that it’s okay (and quite normal) to take a break, step back, change, and reboot. It’s all part of the journey, which, in my opinion, may be more significant than the destination, wherever that is.

my definitive list of healthy lifestyle essentials

I remember when I first started to try to be healthier. My thought process went a little something like this: “How the F am I going to afford all of this? Being healthy is expensive.” I now realize this isn’t true, but it is a common misconception. Any lifestyle can be expensive or inexpensive, depending on how you choose to live it. Like, being unhealthy can also be expensive…feel me? Kombucha, collagen, vitamins, matcha, “natural” skin care products, group fitness/gym memberships, high-quality activewear, the list of what some consider to be “healthy lifestyle MUSTS” goes on and on…and that shit adds up.

Cradling my Vitamix like it’s my baby CAUSE IT IS.

I’m definitely guilty of purchasing things I didn’t need in the long run, but since becoming vegan and making my health a top priority, there are also things I’ve purchased that made being healthy MUCH easier. To save you some grief (and hopefully cash), I’ve compiled them all into a list. Some of these are specific brands, and some are general concepts. Some are brands I’ve worked with, some are not. Overall, though, I believe they’re all worth investing in.

healthy lifestyle essentials, according to G

a Vitamix

Investing in a QUALITY, high-speed blender is seriously life-changing; no matter what your diet looks like. Before I got a Vitamix, I was eating vegan food. After getting a Vitamix, I was experimenting with, creating with, and LOVING ON vegan food. Here are a few things I make with my Vitamix that I couldn’t make with my first blender: homemade nut milk, vegan raw desserts, vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan sauces and dishes, juices, soup…the list goes on and on. Investing in a quality blender up front is worth it in the long run. I like my Vitamix because the blade is stainless-steel so it will blend through basically anything, it has up to 10-year full warranty, and it’s available in big sizes, which makes meal-prepping for the week a breeze.

*TIP: You can a Vitamix refurbished for WAY cheaper, and they come good as new!

 

 a LEGIT waterbottle

…or a few, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll accidentally leave a trail of them all throughout Manhattan. (Let us take a moment of silence for every water bottle I’ve lost.)

A legit waterbottle is essential for a few reasons. First off, it’s better for the environment to minimize how much plastic you use. (Duh.) Second, it encourages you to drink more water, which is basically #1 on every, “What to do to be a healthier human in general,” list on the internet. (Here’s mine!)

This is my S’well bottle; I bring it everywhere!

books, books, books!

It seems silly that I have to mention this but it is SO IMPORTANT. Every life-changing decision I’ve made or positive mental shift I’ve experienced has been because of a book I read. If you struggle with finishing books or taking the time to sit down and read, buy them on audio and listen to them on your commute, while you’re cooking dinner, or whatever. Some of my favorites include The Secret, The China Study, You’re A Badass, Co-Dependent No More, How Not To Die, The Universe Has Your Back, and Woman Code.

 organic groceries

I know, I know…buying organic groceries is more expensive than it should be. However, in my opinion, it’s worth every penny. Buying organic helps keep our water clean. It also helps protect animals because pesticides sneak into their habitats causing them to suffer. It also helps with soil erosion and lessens your chance of consuming GMOs. If you’re on a tight budget, I suggest searching, “The dirty dozen” on the internet. This is a list of 12 foods you should always buy organic, even if you’re on a budget.

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wellness apps

I’m not talking about having a bunch of random free apps on your phone. I’m talking about investing in a yearly subscription and making these apps part of your daily/weekly routine. My personal favorite is a meditation app called Headspace. To find the app that’s worth investing in for you, I suggest two things. 1. Look inward and ask yourself: What areas of my life could I improve on? Narrow it down to categories (health, fitness, organization, etc), and go from there. 2. Practice a TON of trial and error. Obviously, you’re not going to love every app you come across. But once you find one that feels natural to your routine, don’t half-ass it; commit to it and buy it.

productivity tools

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Set yourself up for success. You can definitely be healthier and mindful without fitness trackers, bullet journals, and organization apps, but why would you make it harder for yourself to succeed and refrain from investing in things that will make your life easier? In my experience, tools like these have held me accountable. They make me excited to exercise, plan out my day, and cross things off my to-do list. A few of my favorite productivity tools are my apple watch, my 5 Minute Journal, and my planner.

In good health,

G

 

 

oil training: how-to and benefits

I used to wash my hair once a day. Now, I wash my hair once a week max; and it’s all thanks to oil training. 

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This picture was taken after six days of not washing my hair.

*The first part of this post is my personal journey with oil training. If you just want some tips/answers to FAQs, scroll down!

If you’re one of those people who can’t go a day without washing your hair because of how greasy it gets, I can totally relate. I used to envy friends who would complain about how dry their hair gets because, after 24 hours of not washing mine, my head would look like a mop. No problem, though; because after a while, I accepted that fact that I was one of those people who just had to shampoo my hair every day to avoid looking like I hadn’t showered in weeks. Right?

Na. Not anymore. Thank you, oil training!

I started oil training when I first became a cycling instructor. Though I exercised nearly every day before I became an instructor, teaching multiple classes a day on top of exercising on my own started to really take a toll on my hair. Not because I sweat so much; though, but more so because I would wash my hair multiple times a day to try and avoid excess sweat and grease. Let me say that again: Sweat wasn’t damaging my hair. Over-washing it was.

After about three weeks or so of teaching/exercising/shampooing my hair multiple times a day, I started noticing some unpleasant changes in my hair health. My ends started becoming super frizzy. My hair would get knotted much easier than it did before. I’d lose A LOT of hair in the shower. AND, it would get greaser even faster than it used to. You’d think that the more I washed it the less greasy it would become…

In hopes of someone having some suggestions on how I could avoid damaging my hair any further, I started asking my friends and colleagues for advice. I had only mentioned it to a few people before another instructor mentioned how Lee From America—a blogger she followed—didn’t wash her hair regularly. “I think she oil trains?” she said. “Maybe you should look into that.”

The idea of washing my hair less than once a day literally made my skin crawl, but after doing my research on oil training and the benefits it could provide, I started to wonder if this was something I could get into. “I’ll try it for a day or two,” I thought to myself, “and if I truly can’t stand it, I’ll just wash it.”

I decided that since I was a serial washer, I’d first start small and only wait an extra day in between each wash. First I’d wait two days, then three, etc. Eventually, I’d build up to a full week without washing, and then I’d wait anywhere between five and seven days after that (depending on what I had going on socially, how greasy my hair would get, etc.)

The first few days were ROUGH. After the first time I went three days without shampooing my hair, it looked like my hair was wet all the time. I definitely had to swallow my pride a bit and rock a LOT of “slicked back bun and big earrings” looks. After three or so weeks of pushing through, I noticed my hair was less and less greasy each time I’d go shampoo it. Just like I had read, it was working. So, I pushed myself even further and started experimenting with different oil-training tactics.

Long story short, after 5 or so weeks of oil training, I got to a point where my hair wouldn’t start to get greasy until 6 to 8 days of being shampoo-free. Now, I usually wash my hair once a week, and I LOVE IT.

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FAQs

Q: What is oil training, and why do you do it?

A: Oil training is when you refrain from washing your hair as much as you can so that once it’s trained, you can wash it less. The more you train, the less oily your hair will get after a few days of not washing it. The overall goal (for me, at least), is not to NEVER wash your hair again. It’s simply to wash it less and not depend on shampoo.

I oil train for two reasons: 1. In my personal opinion, it’s damaging to stop our bodies from doing anything it does naturally. (Ex: birth control, antiperspirants, and stripping or hair from natural oil it produces.) I’ve found that after I oil trained my hair and refrained from shampoo, it was MUCH healthier in every way. 2. I used to shampoo my hair every day, and ain’t nobody got the time/money/patience for that.

Q: Do you get your hair wet when you shower?

A: I personally do, but I know many people who don’t. Some claim that getting your hair wet while oil training spreads the grease, however, this isn’t my experience. Also, as an instructor, my hair is a HOT MESS after I teach; and getting it wet makes it easier for me to style after teaching a bunch that day. (Yes, I often dry my hair with sweat in it. I don’t think it’s gross. You do you.)

Q: Do you use dry shampoo?

A: Na. In my opinion, if you’re dry shampooing, you might as well shampoo. My natural version of “dry shampoo” is baking soda and APCV. I apply the baking soda on my roots a few minutes before I shower when it’s dry (get it ALLL up in there), and then I apply about half a cup of APCV on my hair in the shower once it’s wet. I only do this in a do-or-die situation; like, if I have a social event and I don’t feel 100% about where my hair is at but I don’t want to wash it. In other words, I only do this on days where I would usually wash it but want to train it longer.

Q: What do you do when you’re going out but your hair looks or feels greasy?

A: Braids, buns, bold lips, and big earrings. Oil training has actually pushed me outside of my comfort zone to try different styles/looks. I’ve grown to love the bare-faced, bold lip, slicked back hair look now; which prior to oil training I would have NEVER done. It makes you OWN your shit, ya know?

Q: How long did it take you to get to a place where you are only washing once a week?

A: A little over five weeks. PUSH THROUGH I PROMISE IT’S WORTH IT.

Q: I tried oil training for a few days and my head is itching. Is this normal?

A: YES. Week 1.5 the itch was REAL. It goes away!

quick tips

-use baking soda + APCV as shampoo alternatives. (See how-to above.)

-start slow…that’s what worked for me. I didn’t go seven days without washing right away; I started with two days shampoo-free, then three, and eventually built up to seven.

-plan your social life around the training. When I first started, I used to schedule dates, dinners, etc. around the days I knew I was going to wash my hair. NO SHAME.

-don’t knock it until you try it! I was such a skeptic but now I’m so thankful I pushed through, and my hair feels so healthy.

 

In good health,

G

living a healthy lifestyle: how to stay on track

Right before and after January 1st, all of my social feeds become filled with endless, “how to keep your resolution” articles. Apparently, the media has caught on to the fact that the idea of keeping up with something for an entire year (or even a few months, at that) is pretty daunting. People love to set New Year’s resolutions for themselves because a calendar forces them to do so, yet there’s a universal, collective scoff at the concept of actually keeping them. I remember reading something last year that said 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Well, that’s encouraging!

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I bring this up because the inability to “stay on track” is one of the biggest reasons people tell me they’re hesitant to even try to be healthier. I often hear things like, “I could be vegan for one day a week, but that’s it.” or, “I want to be healthy but I couldn’t keep up with it.” Come to think of it, I’m definitely guilty of this thought process as well. I believe a huge part of how I’ve successfully eliminated things out of my diet was by telling myself at first that whatever I was changing wasn’t forever, just to take the pressure off. Wtf is up with that?

In my opinion, there are two big reasons that many people don’t feel like they can maintain a healthy lifestyle. The first reason is that food choices often turn into habits, and habits are hard to break. The second? Fear.

I’m definitely a creature of habit. Once I’ve found a routine that makes me comfortable and gives my life structure, breaking away from that can be extremely difficult. Especially if those habits stem from my emotions (sweets before bed). Once your brain has made space for a food habit at a certain time of the day, your life can feel empty without it.

I’ve come to find that when people ask me how I stay motivated in all aspects of my health, my go-to answer, “willpower” isn’t supppeerrrr popular. Here’s the thing, though: Over the years, my willpower has gotten MUCH stronger because before making any drastic changes or right when I started my journey, I prepared myself to do so.

My advice? Simple: Set yourself up for success by PREPARING. Mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare yourself for the changes you’re about to make. Don’t let a habit or fear dictate your decisions. You dictate your decisions.

8 things you can do maintain a healthy lifestyle

1. educate yourself

What are the facts behind your decision? This has been really helpful for me when my emotions tempt me to make choices I normally wouldn’t. Before I went vegan, I read countless books on the lifestyle. This way, in a, “I want that slice of pizza and it’s making me sad I can’t have it, so I’m gonna have it,” moment, the logical side of my brain overrides the emotional and all of the FACTS behind why I became vegan pop into my head. You can do this with any lifestyle, form of exercise, etc. Read a damn book, peeps!

2. be honest with yourself about your reasoning

Why do you want to do this? Are you trying to lose weight, are you doing it for the environment, or are you just trying to experiment? There isn’t a right or wrong answer, however, there is an honest and dishonest answer. If you stay true to yourself and your reasoning, nothing can take that away from you; and it feels liberating as fuck.

3. surround yourself with like-minded people

I’m definitely not telling you to ditch your friends that don’t choose to live the same way you do. BUT, I definitely am telling you that adding more people into your life that do choose to live the same way you do makes the entire process a hell of a lot easier. I mean, who doesn’t want more friends?

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4. find your “tools”

Imagine me saying tools in air quotes because these tools can be both a tangible and emotional thing. I’ve found a little bit of both work for me: journaling (physical and emotional), meditating, and running. For my personality type, fitness trackers really help with holding me accountable.

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5. meal prep!

SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE FOODIES IN THE BACK. (Insert clapping emoji.) I can’t stress this enough. Obviously, you’re more likely to make a healthy choice if it’s waiting for you in your fridge. People are so hard on themselves when they make unhealthy meal choices, yet all they’d have to do to make choosing a healthy meal a no-brainer is prepare it ahead of time. It saves you money, you learn how to cook, the list of pros goes on and on. If you’re looking for some meal prep inspo, here’s my formula for quick, easy, plant-based meals.

6. share your experiences

I have amazing news: There is enough positive energy and abundance in the world for EVERYONE. So, why not share it with as many people as you can? Once I started noticing all of the positive things a healthy lifestyle did to my body and mood, I felt an overwhelming need to share everything I learned with others. Not only did this allow me to help people I cared about, but it also held me accountable. The more people I’d share it with, the more people that would reach out to me for help. Because of this, I made sure to educate myself as much as I could. It’s crazy what you can do when you know others are depending on you.

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7. know that change is coming

…and keep with it until you start noticing a difference. In anything. Energy levels, weight, acne, etc. Everybody is different, therefore, change comes at different paces for everyone. But something I can guarantee is that as soon as one change happens, the rest come very quickly. Use this as motivation to keep up with it until you see the first change.

8. only do it if you’re ready

My mom read Skinny Bitch, The Secret, and The Seat of the Soul when I was in high school. She told me all about them, and I read The Secret when I was 17. It didn’t make a difference to me, though; the information went in one ear and out the other. During that time in my life, I was stubborn, insecure, and unwilling to change. It wasn’t until after recovering from my eating disorder that I was mentally prepared to take in all of the information I needed to make some positive changes. Don’t force it or it will become a chore. No one wants to do chores…

 

I hope these things can help you as much as they helped me. If you ever feel like you’re about to “fall off the wagon,” don’t be so hard on yourself. All you have to do to stay grounded is remember where you started and never lose sight of where you’re going.

In good health,

G