Just before I turned 40, I started to have major problems with my hair thinning.
I’ve always had periods of hair falling out to a noticeable degree, usually after surgery or when my body goes through other periods of intense stress like autoimmune flares or divorce.
It tends to grow back, and I’ve tried a lot of things to try to actually make the hair grow back at at root, but I’m not sure topical regrowth oils, etc. work for me. And the jury is still out on supplements.
Lord knows I wanted SugarBearHair to work because those gummies are delicious! I gave them a solid 5 month try and saw no change, but a lot of people swear by them, and their customer service is pleasant.
Meanwhile, Hair, Skin, and Nails from Nature’s Bounty has a similar cult-level following (and they have a gummy version) and I’m about 2 months in to giving them a shot.
I definitely have about a zillion more baby hairs, but I’m not sure whether that’s coincidence, since my hair does go through natural cycles of thinning and thickening.
I’m also seeing a lot more length, but that could also be an illusion because I’m not playing with my hair a lot during this pandemic, and I might be noticing changes more because more time passes between major styling sessions.
However! My nails are growing like crazy, and that’s easy to gauge because I paint them once a week. I can see the regrowth easily at the cuticle line, and they’re now noticeably grown out in less than a week. They’re also now already strong enough for me to feel like I can wear non-gel polish without breaking or peeling risks.
But one of the easiest thing I’ve started doing during the pandemic is treating my hair while I’m working out.
I only do this when I know I’ll be showering after and when I won’t be doing sorts of sessions that will involve putting my head on the floor, because the oils, etc., here can get a little messy. If my hair was long enough for a top knot, it would be fine.
This really only takes 10 seconds longer than pulling my hair into a ponytail would anyway
Brush it out straight back with my Tangle Teezer (the holy grail of detangling brushes)
Put some of the super-expensive-but-it-might-work-so-why-not Initialiste Scalp & Hair Serum from Kérastase into the hairline and thinnest areas. I love this stuff because it’s water-based, so you can apply it after showering and your hair still styles as usual.
Add a little of the Living Proof Dry Scalp Treatment, since it’s winter and I figure a hydrated scalp is a healthy scalp.
2 pumps at a time, I smooth some Ouia Hair Oil onto the ends and a lot of the mid-shaft. I use 2 pumps at a time so that I can control the application, but I usually get about 6 pumps onto the hair.
Apply about a quarter-size amount of Living Proof Repair Leave-In just onto the ends. I don’t LOVE the texture of this leave-in conditioner because it feels almost waxy, but I use it for this because I think it seals the cuticle.
I “Invisibobble” in the pony since the plastic won’t get ruined by the treatment, and let’s be honest: these are the best darn hair ties in the world.
All the links to buy (or learn more about these) are below
Since the scalp products are both water-based, I don’t worry about them clogging my pores while I get sweaty.
Who knows if it helps over the long run, but I definitely feel like I can see a big difference after having this in and then washing it out with a gentle shampoo and bonder conditioner like Olaplex.
Well… my doctor gave me a goal of losing 5 pounds, and I only lost 2.
Yes, I’m disappointed. I was totally sure that 5 pounds would be no big deal with the level of commitment I had (and still have) in my mind.
Lifestyle changes so far…
1. I’ve figured out how to develop a taste for plain oatmeal and Chobani™️ without 50 tons of added sugar, and it wasn’t an easy process. 6 points for Strawberry yogurt vs. 0 points for plain yogurt was enough of a motivator, since I’m starving.
2. I even resorted to eating grilled chicken for a few days, even though I hate the texture and flavor of it, but the skinny internet and Weight Watchers seem to act like chicken is crucial.
3. One of the toughest lifestyle changes I made this month is not getting snacks at night.
I live in a high-rise that has an awesome gourmet grocery store on the first floor, so I can sneak down in my sweats and slippers and grab the most fabulous array of little chocolate-covered pretzels, basically everything someone would need to make a world-class charcuterie board, organic bake-at-home cinnamon rolls, artisanal cream sodas, every fancy ice cream ever made….
… I mean, you get the idea…
And before I started this journey, I didn’t “keep” unhealthy snacks in the home, but I would definitely pop down to get them every day.
And to top that off, the store has a coffee shop that makes my achilles heel of breakfasts:
4. LOX + BAGEL.
I used to get an order 4 or 5 times a week, because, again, all there is between me and a bakery fresh, loxy, creamy dream concoction is one bank of elevators and $12.
So, that’s over.
But, to be clear, I’m not trying to get into a headspace where I’m “depriving” myself (and maybe that’s one of the ways I’m going wrong i’m not meeting such a modest goal!), so if I had wanted one, I would have just one, but I didn’t.
5. I think it was worth investing in a cute pitcher and even cuter unicorn ice cubes, because now I can make a big, cold pitcher of herbal iced tea every morning, and it motivates me to get hydrated, plus helps me track my daily intake.
The easiest method for me is chilling an almost-filled pitcher of filtered water in the fridge overnight, and then in the morning I put 3 tea bags in a mug and add about 6 ounces of boiling water to brew them into a tea concentrate.
Once that cools, I add it to the chilled water, and drop in my ice cubes.
Note: anyone who has ever used reusable ice cubes knows they really don’t chill extremely well. They only last about an hour, but for me, that’s fine: I want to hold the cold while I have the pitcher out for a few hours, such as when I’m working out, but otherwise I keep it in the fridge.
And honestly, the main reason I wanted the cubes is because the unicorn shapes make me interested enough to actually get that H2O in. So, you do you, boo. Unicorns might not be the ticket, but don’t be afraid to do whatever it takes to make hydrating more appealing.
6. Just 2 weeks ago, I started getting Purple Carrot boxes. It’s a meal kit like Blue Apron, or whatever, but vegan.
I’m not precisely vegan, but I love plants and don’t like meats, so it works for me.
The meals are sometimes major hits and sometimes major misses, but they’re definitely healthy in the sense of being whole foods that are nutrient dense.
The major downside is that they’re not organic. Which is almost a deal-breaker. But not for the moment while the convenience is worth it.
7. Exercise is definitely the #1 change I’ve made this month.
I started with the OG, Richard Simmons, whose “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” programs are adorable and great for a gentle-on-the-joints cardio that definitely gets the job done.
For whatever reason, my bod feels way tighter and my paints fit better as if I’ve lost 10 pounds, but I’ve only lost 2.
I don’t think it’s true that “muscle weighs more than fat,” etc. but I do think strength training can shift the shape of the body in a way that makes it feel tighter and firmer, even if I weigh the same.
8. NO MORE DOUBLE BREAKFASTS
That’s right, I used to eat not ONE but TWO breakfasts.
See related post on emotional eating & hunger, but the gist is, I was waking up with this incredible sense of hunger, and NEEDED to put oatmeal on the second I woke up, while I was making my coffee.
So, I’d have a sugary oatmeal packet around 6am, and then a second breakfast, often a bagel, or something really not great from a caloric and inflammatory standpoint, around 10am. From there, I’d have a full lunch at 1pm and a full dinner around 6pm, plus an evening snack-fest.
I finally started talking with my therapist about my hunger and the complexity of my emotional relationship with food, and I’ll be honest: it’s been challenging work.
But, somehow it’s working. I’m not waking with painful hunger, and that means I’m only eating one breakfast.
It’s hard for me to work out on an empty stomach, so I’ll either make my oatmeal and have 2 bites, and then have the rest after my workout, or I’ll have a few almonds or something before I get into my spandex.
I’ve been making the transition away from sugar-sweetened oatmeal by throwing a bunch of frozen blueberries in, and it works well enough. If you’re adult enough to keep fresh blueberries in the fridge at all times, that’s much better tasting, and way better looking.
9. I don’t need dessert after everything. I used to struggle to feel “finished” with a meal without something sweet, and usually that meant a full-blown dessert after lunch and dinner every day.
At first I just transitioned to having some fruit or even a cough drop, but gradually my craving for dessert has just gone away.
These are BIG CHANGES…
…so I honestly thought I would have dropped 20 pounds (or something) with so many major adjustments.
But the reality is that all of these changes have been gradual over the past month.
I’m LEARNING each of these changes by practicing them, and that makes perfect sense. Especially since I’ve been sedentary and eating mainly pierogis for a decade.
But now that I’ve learned these changes, it’s time to level up.
My goal is to be at 125 lbs by September 1, 2021 (which is 9 months from now), and that means I only need to drop about 4 pounds a month, but I really do need to hit that monthly goal, and not miss it so hard like this month.
The changes I’ve made so far haven’t been easy, but here’s what I need to shift this coming month to increase my chances:
1. Keep up the things I’ve learned.
2. Actually track in the Weight Watchers app. This is something I’m terrible at, but the excuses have to stop. It doesn’t take that long, and it teaches me a lot about how much I’m really eating.
3. Actually go to WW meetings. I’m paying for weekly meetings, and they’re virtual so it couldn’t be easier. In the past when I’ve dropped weight and kept it off, going to meetings made all the difference.
4. Try new exercises, especially abs/core. My changing body shape is a huge motivator to stay on track.
5. Smaller portions. I’m definitely eating too much. Purple Carrot kits make “2 servings” and so I have one for lunch and one for dinner. But the servings are huge. I’m going to try dividing them into 3 servings.
I make a cup of oatmeal in the morning, but I’m usually satisfied after 1/2 a cup, so why not?
You might be thinking: if you were measuring your food, you’d know exactly what a portion size should be, but I’m not really there yet, and I have to make the changes I can, since there are so many to make!
6. Get a little more active overall. I need to move more during the day. I like to read, and I’m thinking about switching to audiobooks so I can “read” while I’m moving around. I’m trying to get up the motivation to dig out my Apple Watch and start tracking my steps like everyone else who cares about their fitness seems to do at all times.
7. Stretch and move during recovery days. Since I’m so deconditioned, 20 squats gives me a whole DOMS situation, and I know I need to recover with a certain degree of care. However, I can keep up my daily routine by just switching to yoga.
There isn’t much I find more boring than yoga at this point, but I know the benefits, and it’s way past time to develop a taste for it.
Aaand, off we go. Time to learn more about how to have a body.
My advice to spoonies or sickies like me is to STAY PATIENT AND KNOW THAT LEARNING TAKES TIME. It takes a lot to make changes when you’ve felt like your body is your enemy for a long time, and developed habits for just getting through the day or coping with the emotionally hard stuff of having a disability. And, realistically, the same goes for everyone. 🖤