Announcement: We’re Homeowners!

Announcements, Lifestyle

I’ll Drink to That

Pop the freaking champagne because after 9 months of house hunting, it finally freaking happened!

On September 12, 2019 Matt and I officially closed on the most perfect house that we could have asked for. With this new change, a heavy weight has finally been lifted off our shoulders, because it’s been a LONG time getting to this point. 

Matt was adamant about us becoming homeowners since the moment we moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., and since then it’s been a huge area of stress that I was not anticipating immediately following graduation, leaving my parents house, looking for a job, and moving in with a significant other for the first time. Because of that, the whole house hunting endeavor was a constant hot button issue.

Now we’re finally settled into our new home and best of all, we can finally breathe. No more house hunting, no more discussions about it, no more stress in our home environment! I’m sure you know what I mean! If you’ve ever gone house hunting before it can feel like the ground is shaking underneath you. You don’t feel stable and at peace in your current home and you’re always going through this exhausting inner battle about whether you should or shouldn’t put an offer in, whether you should even buy a house, how much money you want to spend, and how much work you want to put in. It starts to consume you!

Sitting here now, in our home, I can finally celebrate the fact that we now have our FIRST HOME. (Which I guess makes us grown-ups or something??) On top of that, I can look back at the entire house buying experience and appreciate that it got us to where we are today: in our perfect little home, that checked every box on our list and more. 

From Headaches to Happiness

Now I hate to say this because I feel like I should have known this, but looking at houses and putting offers in is far more stressful than I would have expected! If you’re not familiar with St. Pete, all of the houses here were built between 1900 and 1950 which means “historic charm” surrounds us everywhere we look. BUT that historic charm comes with a huge price: termites, asbestos, odd floor plans, and costly renovations.

On top of that, St. Pete is a city that has completely turned around in the last 10-15 years. The line that I’ve heard more than anything else since moving here is: “Ten years ago, you wouldn’t ever stop in St. Pete.” What went from a city that was run down and plagued with crime has turned into one of the most popular and expensive areas to live around the greater Tampa Bay area. Today it’s filled with street art, kava bars, crystal shops, breweries, restaurants, bars, boutiques, cafes, and boho plant shops.

As you can imagine, it’s wonderful. BUT to be close to an area this popular, a two-bedroom/one-bath in DIRE need of renovations with ZERO closet or storage space, a dated floor plan, termites, and asbestos goes for around $300,000! Even then, most of the homes here go for ABOVE asking price!

On this rather unpleasant journey, Matt and I fell in love with “the one” FOUR SEPARATE TIMES! Four times we found the perfect, charming house that had everything we wanted only to discover heartbreaking news in the inspection. OR, we would end up having our offer (that MATCHED the asking price) denied! This area is so popular, that even with all of those problems in a house, sellers know they will be able to get above asking.

I’m not kidding when I say that I had completely given up hope of finding a home. But just like what always happens whenever you relax, let go of expectations and trust in the universe – it magically worked out.

After 9 months, 4 offers, and about 100 arguments, IT HAPPENED. We’re now the very happy homeowners of a gorgeous home in the city that we love so much. And the best part is, it’s termite- and asbestos-free!

Honey, We’re Home

Now all of the stress and all of the headaches have finally been replaced with excitement! Excitement over renovations, painting, decorating, landscaping, and best of all: getting a pup.

We can finally appreciate the fact that we have our first home and that all of the home rejection was really just REDIRECTION to bring us here.

To bring us the perfect starter house that meets all of our needs and fills us up. A home where I can write this post to you right now and concentrate because I don’t have to hear “Seinfield” playing in the background! A home where we can step outside, be in the sun, and hear the birds throughout the day. A home that’s surrounded by other young couples walking their dogs in the evening. A home that has a huge walk-in closet so Matt no longer has to fight for space. And a home we feel happy in.

Our Must-Haves

You know what’s interesting about house hunting? It’s so difficult and it takes so much time that you actually start to believe that your ideal home doesn’t even exist. That you will NEVER find what you’re looking for and that it’s impossible for you to find a home that’s perfect for you. Even though you’re surrounded by thousands and thousands of homes in your area, the entire house hunting process is enough to make even the most faithful and positive people become closed-minded. That’s exactly what happened to me.

Here were my absolutely must-haves for a home that I convinced myself was impossible to find…

  • A fenced-in yard for our future pup
  • A floor plan that makes sense and doesn’t have long, rectangular rooms
  • A completely renovated kitchen (I was so NOT about to do that myself)
  • A home office for me so that my kitchen counter doesn’t have to be my desk anymore
  • A front porch
  • A block house so we don’t have to worry about asbestos siding or termites
  • Laundry space (some houses we saw did not have a washer and dryer or any room to put them in)
  • Storage space (since most of the houses here were built in the 1910s, most of them don’t have the room and storage space for our lifestyle now)
  • A big enough closet for the both of us
  • And a safe neighborhood – I didn’t care to live in a neighborhood that is referred to as “up-and-coming.” I wanted to be in a neighborhood that I felt very safe comfortable in while walking a dog around by myself. Since many of the areas in St. Pete are still turning around, you’ll find beautiful, safe, charming streets, followed by a specific street that you have to be conscious to avoid.

You’ll notice that my list of “must-haves” was very reasonable. Sure there were still things that I wanted to have, but these were my absolutes and I wasn’t asking for a lot. I think most people would say they want to be in a safe neighborhood and have a floor plan that makes sense, but I was honestly starting to believe that it was impossible to find. That all those houses were snatched up leaving us with only one option: buy a run-down house and remodel the entire thing ourselves.

Added Bonuses:

Of course, the home DID exist and I’m writing to you from inside it right now. I realize how crazy it was thinking that there’s no way a home like this could be possible for us to find in St. Pete. Not only did we get every one of our must-haves, but we also got so much more!

  • A large walk-in closet with plenty of room for both of us. No more fighting over space!
  • A garage where we can store holiday decorations, our suitcases, and tools so that they’re not eating up our living space and indoor storage.
  • A wine fridge, which will be FULLY stocked with J. Lohr Chardonnay for whenever my mom comes to visit.
  • Lots of natural light that floods into the house in the morning.
  • A bar cart that the previous owner let us have which is now stocked and makes us feel super fancy. AND a narrow table in the kitchen she also gave to us that we use a coffee bar! Which means we have a designated space for coffee and drinks! Could there be anything more perfect than that?
  • A sliding barn door on the closet which looks super cool and sounds like a dungeon door every time we close and open it.
  • Dozens of blue jays that fly around our house and make me smile every time I look out the window. 
  • And a corner lot with lots of yard space!

What’s to Come?!

So, what’s to come now that we’re finally in our first home? Well, for starters, several house projects which we’re really looking forward to working on AND a lot of decorating! Since this is my first home, I’m so excited to make it my own and create space that makes me feel energized and happy. Here’s what’s to come!

  • A yard filled to capacity with greenery, wildflowers, and star jasmine
  • Full-on bohemian decorations and plants! I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life to turn a home into my own little boho paradise – carefully re-modeled after my Pinterest Boards.
  • A back patio with strobe lights hanging above the seating area and a fire pit to roast marshmallows.
  • Outdoor games since Matt and his best friend Pat have been very vocal that they need to be able to play backyard games.
  • An updated, completely remodeled bathroom that lucky for us, was miraculously completed by our contractor the day before we moved in! 
  • A dressing room style master closet with a large shoe rack, full-length mirror, and bench to sit down on.
  • A beautiful home office where I can have a designated spot to work on my blog and YouTube and have my future health coaching clients over!! I’m also planning on creating a small altar and meditation space so that I can have a spiritual practice without hearing “Seinfeld” or “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” playing in the background. (Sorry Matt, I love you.)
  • A custom garage door and new driveway (because for some reason one of the previous owners had sealed the garage door shut so you can’t get it open and an oak tree at the front of the property has done a tremendous job ripping up half the driveway!)
  • French doors that open out onto the patio so you don’t have to walk through the garage.

But of course, there’s so much more to come, now that we finally have a home and more than 600 square feet of space. The number one thing that we’re looking forward to is a puppy! I’m hoping that our puppy is just around the corner because I’m so beyond excited to be a dog mom. I’ve been waiting to be a dog mom my entire life! The breeds I’m the most in love with are Keeshonds, Pomskys, and Samoyeds. I’m obsessed with the fluff (:

And BEES! For those of you who don’t know, Matt has been wanting to become a beekeeper for years! I’m sure you can fully expect to hear more about our process of buying bees and learning how to make honey in the next year. I have a feeling it’s going to be a struggle but will be EXTREMELY entertaining. I’m picturing us walking around with smoke in our beekeeper outfits right now. Matt and I have even thought up the name for our future honey business that Matt blurted out to our friend Ray as a joke once, but we LOVE it. I’m not telling you what it is just yet!

Last but not least, getting married (: To all of our friends and family, I just want to say that YES we will get married someday and we will do that when we are ready! We’re already picking up on the not-so-subtle hints that people think we should get married since we have a house now. When we are ready to take that next step, it will happen!

I remember six months into dating Matt, I looked at him as we were leaving a Christmas concert one night and said, “I’m going to marry the sh*t out of you someday.” That has become one of the most memorable quotes and milestones in our relationship. We pretty much knew when we started dating that we were very committed to each other. 

For now, we would just really love to enjoy THIS milestone before jumping to the next one simply because people think that’s what we’re “supposed” to do. Moving and buying a house is already a big project and undertaking, you can bet that I’m not going to throw wedding planning into the mix just yet!

I’m Incredibly Grateful

I’m so incredibly grateful that we’re in this home right now. This is just another example of the Law of Attraction in my life. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent dreaming and doing visitation mediations years ago about having a home in Florida. I can’t tell you how many times I scanned Pinterest staring at houses and decorations. And I can’t tell you how much time I spent thinking about the freedom and happiness it would bring me to have a HOME that I could share with someone. This is just another example of how powerful and real manifestation is.

It also goes to show that when you stop forcing something to happen that you want and finally RELAX and trust in the universe, it will happen! The only thing that you have to do is focus on what you want and it will come to you. But the HOW is the domain of the universe. Trying to force something is not going to work.

The second reason why I feel grateful is that we don’t have to pour ungodly amounts of money into renting anymore. Now we have a home that we can invest in instead of throwing money away. That only is worth celebrating!

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always thank you for coming to Lost Online! I hope you enjoyed this peak into our first home! Once our home has come together a bit more, I’ll be sharing how we’re decorating our beautiful bohemian home, where the ideas came from, and where we found our favorite pieces! For now, we’ll be busy getting it all together!

A special shout out to that adorable fur baby, Luka June for deciding she wanted in on our celebration and photoshoot too! Luka is Ray’s dog and another member of a little “Beer Brigade,” as we call it. Ray, Matt, Luka and I spend weekends shooting for the blog, coming up with photo concepts and drinking craft beer! (Well, Luka doesn’t drink the beer). Together, the four of us make up the Beer Brigade!

Lastly, I just want to share that if you’re a Lost Online reader than you’re aware that I often make announcements on the blog like, “The Start of a New Chapter: Why I’m Studying to Become a Certified Health Coach” or “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.” I created this blog post because making announcements is something that I do regularly and because this is a HUGE milestone in my life. I want to enjoy this, I want to share it with my tribe, and I want to sit here and reflect on this milestone in my favorite way – through writing. 

It would make me so sad if there was someone reading who took this post thinking that I created it with the intention of bragging. I’m just over here doing what us bloggers do – writing about our experiences. I’m also sharing this with you because part of my purpose with my blog and coaching practice is to show people that the Law of Attraction is real and to inspire them to incorporate it into their own lives! It’s mind-blowing what manifestation can bring to you. I would LOVE it if my story could inspire you and help you transform your own life.

Before you head out, let me know what you think in the comments! Can you relate to my experience with house hunting? Did this blog post leave you with any thoughts or takeaways? Do you already have a house or are you still daydreaming about your future home someday? What do you want in your future home? Can you think of your own advice for first time home buyers? OR do you have a similar manifestation experience you’d like to share!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

15 Reasons To Travel While You’re Young + Thoughts on Traveling & Social Media

Travel

I got the travel bug from my grandmother, who has been to so many countries that she probably wouldn’t be able to count them if she tried. My grandma goes on at least one trip abroad a year and usually comes back with a very odd and very humorous souvenir for us. Every time I talked to my grandma when I was growing up, I was so amazed at how she would casually bring up some incredible trip she took.

I always wanted to be like her. She’s so well-traveled, cultured, and so interesting – and I’m not the only one who thinks that. She’s someone that everyone loves and is intrigued by the second they meet her. I remember after my friend Pat met her for the first time, he turned to me and said one of my favorite quotes of all time, “Heather, your grandma is dope!” She is a dope grandma indeed. 

She’s a lady who does whatever the hell she wants regardless of what other people think. One of my favorite things she’s ever said to me was, “I don’t think I want a boyfriend, that might cramp my style.” If there’s one person I want to be like when I grow up and one person I want to make proud of, it’s her. And one way I plan on doing that is by exploring as much of this miraculous planet as I can, just like her.

With no surprise, my grandma was incredibly supportive of my love for travel. Not only does she pass on her travel stories and experiences to me, but she’s funded several of my trips. She generously took me to Paris for two weeks for my Sweet Sixteen, paid for my month-long graduation trip through Europe, and took a spontaneous and impulsive trip with me to Niagara Falls this summer. 

Today, my grandma’s writing is tattooed on the side of my body. It reads, “A life full of travel and wonders of our planet.” It will remind me for the rest of my life to get out of my bubble and explore the world as much as I can.

Just like my grandma, I want to encourage others to explore too. To put their money towards a plane ticket instead of products. So here are the top reasons why I believe it’s important to travel while you’re young in hopes that I will inspire at least one person to buy a ticket!

1. Travel expands your mind

I know this is the very first thing that people usually say about travel, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re sitting in some random spot on the other side of the planet having your mind blown. I remember watching an opera in Rome and seeing flamenco dancing in Spain. Those are two experiences that I will never forget because I was utterly amazed seeing this in person. All I could think of was, “WHAT?! This is a thing?! People actually do this?!” It’s incredible seeing someone who’s spent a lifetime perfecting some dance that you would have never even heard of before.

When you travel, especially for an extended period of time or with a group of strangers, you regularly have those moments where you’re shocked by what you’re seeing or how other people interact in different cultures. You experience and learn things that you wouldn’t have otherwise known until you went there yourself.

Sometimes it expands your mind to things that are unpleasant. On my graduation trip, I learned so much about the Holocaust and World War II after visiting Germany and seeing a concentration camp that I would have never have learned unless I had visited Germany and gone on local tours. It’s best to travel while you’re young for this reason because your brain is still developing so you’re still very impressionable. Expanding your worldview during this time is crucial because you’ll be more open-minded than you would be if you started traveling after retirement. It allows you to expand your world-view and shape new opinions before settling into your ways.

2. It gets you out of your comfort zone

When you go on a trip abroad, you encounter language barriers, you get lost, and you have awkward moments when you encounter customs that you aren’t familiar with. It makes you feel out of place and puts you far out of your comfort zone, which is a great thing!

Interestingly enough, something about traveling to a foreign country also makes you more willing to take risks and try things that you wouldn’t if you were at home. I remember what it was like going zip lining in Costa Rica with Matt or going on an ATV tour underneath a volcano. The Heather that lives in Florida and spends most of her time going to the same coffee shop to write every day would NEVER do those things. But whenever I go on a trip, I take advantage of experiences that I otherwise wouldn’t try or wouldn’t want to spend the money on. Travel makes you do things that you normally would hold yourself back from, but THOSE moments are the ones that you remember for the rest of your life and tell at parties (or on your Tinder dates, lol). 

3. You meet life-long friends 

Something about dropping everything and traveling to a foreign country with strangers makes you connect with them on a much deeper level. When you travel to a new country with someone, rely on each other to get around, experience new things together, and spend entire days making memories and opening up about your lives back home, you form a very powerful bond. 

It’s a connection that you wouldn’t have had with that person if you had just met at a coffee shop or a bar back home. You create life-long memories with that person, making you much closer together and creating a relationship that you’ll look back on for the rest of your life. For that reason, I know that whenever I reach out to the girls I went on my trip with that they will always be happy to hear from me and we’ll catch up as if no time had passed.

Case in point, I just got back from visiting Cincinnati last night and while I was there I got to see my Europe travel buddy, Emily. We were attached at the hip the entire time we were abroad and now I consider her to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had. She had just landed from New York City yesterday morning and raced to come visit me for the remaining hours I was still in Cincinnati. When we reunited we ran up to each other on the sidewalk, threw our arms around each other and hugged in the most dramatic, rom-com fashion.

4. Travel helps you discover what you really want

When I left for my month-long trip abroad, I was very unsure of what I wanted, but the week I came back, I could look at my life with such clarity. I’m not exactly sure why this happens. Maybe it’s because travel allows you to step away from your life’s problems and have some space so that you can look at things with fresh eyes when you come back. Or maybe it’s because travel changes you, so you come back a slightly different person than the one who left.

Whichever it is, all I know is that my questions and dilemmas I’d been struggling with for months had been resolved when I got back: Where should I live? What career should I pursue? What do I really want in life? What projects do I want to pursue?

I was also very surprised by the number of other people on my tour who were having some kind of life crisis or question that they were seeking the answer to while we were away. I wasn’t the only one who had been hoping to solve some problem or answer an important question. For example, I remember that a handful of people were very unsure about whether or not they wanted to stay with their significant other. They were trying to figure out if they saw themselves staying with this person long term after they returned home or if it was best to go their separate ways. The trip helped them answer their questions. I remember one of my friends even bought a journal so she could do stream of consciousness journaling about her relationship and that helped her gain so much clarity. If you’d like to learn more about stream of consciousness journaling, checkout my blog post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.”

5. Traveling while you’re young allows you freedom before you get tied down 

Yeah you could travel when you’re older, but you also have to consider that you’ll have a full-time job, extra bills, a mortgage payment, a dog that needs to be cared for, a significant other that doesn’t feel like traveling to the same country as you, kids, etc. I could go on and on with other reasons, but the point is that it won’t be as easy to drop everything and backpack your way through South America when you’re 35 or 40. It’s much easier to travel while you’re young because you’re not tied down to anything, and because it will be so much easier to hop back into your normal life without much of a disruption. For example, coming back from an extended holiday when you’re in your teens or early 20’s will have little to no impact on your career because it’s not already established. It’s expected that you’re still traveling, learning about what you want, and changing during this time.

You also have to consider that if you travel while you’re young, you only have to pay for yourself, not an entire family. It’ll cost far less money and you’ll be FAR more likely to actually do it. Simply put, you’ll never feel as free as you do RIGHT NOW.

6. You won’t regret it

You know that moment when you decide it’s freaking time to clean out your closet? Your clothes are overflowing, you can’t find anything, and you realize it’s that time of year to make some donations? You know how whenever this happens you inevitably find clothes in your closet that still have the tags on them and think, “Uggghhhh, why did I buy this!? That was such a waste of money!” Yeah, that doesn’t happen with travel.

I’ve never heard of anyone having buyer’s remorse over taking a trip. You won’t look back at your photos and memories of your summer abroad and think, “Ugggghhh, why did I do that?” “Why did I move to Paris for three months and work at that bakery? How stupid of me.” That just doesn’t happen. Traveling is one of the very few things in life that people spend their money on that they don’t regret. Sure, you might end up going over budget on your trip and be a little bit annoyed at yourself for spending so much. However, the feeling of regret will never enter your mind.

7. Travel makes you humble

The other reason why you should travel, especially while you’re young, is because it makes you humble. You’ll see people all around the world who are living with less than you and realize what little you need to take care of yourself and to be happy. I learned this lesson on my trip to Costa Rica. After coming back I wrote a blog post about this called “A Lesson in Pura Vida.”

I wrote about how I had noticed that the people in Costa Rica lived in what I can only describe as shacks. Their houses were made of tin and they had very few possessions and modern-day luxuries and conveniences. But they were the happiest and nicest people I have ever met in my life. Seriously! It was like they were all enlightened. They walked around with a huge smile on their face and saying hello to everyone. I could tell that they were happy and relaxed – not chronically stressed out. At the time, I went to a private college, drove an expensive car, lived in a gated community, and nannied for families who made over six figures. Yet none of the people that I was surrounded with were happy to be alive. They were stressed out, bitter, and materialistic. They were driven more by possessions and promotions than by anything else (I’m not claiming to be above this). However, these people in Costa Rica had next to nothing, and they were HAPPY. Very, very happy. That trip was humbling and made me reflect more on what’s important in life. 

The second reason why travel makes you humble is that you realize that you’re not the center of the universe. You’re dropped off at the airport in what sometimes feels like an alternate universe. You don’t understand the language or the way people are interacting with each other. Even though you know intellectually that there’s a wide world out there, you typically don’t think much about the world other than your own small existence. Then in the middle of all of this, you’re attending local tours and learning from someone about their political problems or issues that they face in the community. In these moments, it will hit you just how large the world is and how closed off you had been because these issues weren’t on your radar. For example, I didn’t know anything about the poverty rate in Costa Rica as I was going about my daily life in St. Augustine, Fla. It never occurred to me.

Lastly, if you’re traveling while you’re young you’ll most likely be staying in cheap accommodations, eating less expensive food, and finding experiences within your budget. You’re not rolling into your trip to the south of France in first-class seats, sipping champagne, eating caviar, and staying at 5-star hotels. You haven’t hit that age in life where you think, “Alright, I’m going on a trip. It must be luxurious.” No. You stay in hostels, you share bathrooms, you eat at places that are cheaper to accommodate everyone in your group, and you share cramped spaces on trains, planes, and automobiles. Having to be so accommodating with other people and share space is a humbling experience. 

I think that this is an important lesson to learn and it should be learned as SOON as possible. It’s better to become humble when you’re 20 rather than when you’re 45. It makes you a better person.

8. You’re in great shape

Some people decide that having a career and a family are the first priority to them and that travel is something that can wait until retirement, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Because while you do want to make retirement fun and enjoyable, you also have to consider that you won’t be in as good of shape as you’re in when you’re a teenager or in your 20’s.

Your body can handle walking for miles to sightsee all day, hiking up mountains, getting less sleep, carrying a backpack all day, lugging your suitcase around, etc. The physicality of traveling alone just makes more sense to do while you’re young. And you never know what sort of health problems or limitations you might have in old age. 

9. Traveling empowers you

Before I left for my month-long trip to Europe, I was nervous as all hell. It also didn’t help that every person I talked to said something along the lines of, “Oh my God! Four weeks is SO long! I would never be able to do that. You’re crazy. You’re gonna want to come home by week two!”

I remember the night before I left I sat across from my boyfriend fighting off a panic attack for serval hours and drinking wine trying to calm myself down. The next day I was bawling while I was saying goodbye to Matt outside the airport! I. was. a. mess.

But when I landed in Florida after that month, I came back and thought “Oh my gosh! I freaking did it! That was awesome!” It’s a very powerful thing to see yourself doing something that you once considered to be scary. It helps you realize how much you’re capable of and gives you the confidence to take on new challenges or aspirations. Before I left for my trip, I thought a month would feel like forever and I might want to come home, but when I came home I realized that a month was nothing. I could easily take a trip for two, three, four, or even six months at a time. I realized that the fear that I had was all in my head. I set this limitation for myself that I now realize was completely ridiculous. 

10. You can handle cheap accommodations

I’ve noticed that as you get older, the accommodations that you feel you deserve continue to increase in cost. I know that I was going on a trip to a foreign country right now, I would be perfectly ok in cheaper hotels that my older family members wouldn’t even consider staying in. I don’t feel as if I’m somehow deserving of first-class tickets, 5-star hotels, and a luxurious mattress to sleep on. Those things would be fabulous and I would be appreciative of it, but I feel perfectly ok with slumming it a bit to check countries off of my bucket list.

However, it’s not just that as you get older you feel entitled to better accommodations, your body also needs them. I’m 24 now, and I know that my body can handle sleeping on crappy mattresses and taking a 10-hour plane ride in super small airplane seats. But if I was 70 years old right now, that wouldn’t work. I wouldn’t be able to bounce back as well as I can right now. That’s something you also have to keep in mind.

11. You’ll come back with TONS of stories 

The best part of spending your money on traveling is that you come back with tons of stories and memories that stay with you forever. Half the time they’re stories of something wonderful and exciting that you experienced – like when I learned how to make homemade pasta while I tasted wines in Rome (it was Amazing with a capital A). Or sometimes they’re stories of something bad or scary that happened on your trip – like when two of my friends Martha and Emily had a near-death experience during the riots in Paris after the World Cup Final. But even the “bad” memories end up turning into hilarious stories that you get to share and laugh about when you get back home.

It’s been over a year since I went on my tour and I still find myself saying, “That reminds me! When I was on my trip…” I didn’t even realize how many interesting things happened until I came back and would have conversations with people and it would remind me of some experience that I had in Amsterdam, France, or London. I still love telling the story of what it was like experiencing the World Cup Final while I was in Paris or celebrating my sixteenth birthday in Paris which coincidentally is the same day as the French Independence Day. 

12. You’ll have help

One of the added benefits of traveling while you’re young is that you’ll most likely be able to convince mom and dad or grandma and grandma to help you fund your trip. That’s one of the best parts of traveling while your young because you’re family members are eager to help you out financially so that you can make some memories and have a good time. I’m now past the point where my family is jumping up and down to help me pay for a trip, so take advantage of the help while you can!

On top of that there are tons of tours that are cheaper and cater to teens and young adults with a smaller budget but still want to see as many sights as they possibly can. I personally am in love with the tour company EF Tours. I’ve been on two of their trips so far and have loved every minute of it. They get you to all of the attractions, book your flights and hotels for you, hire a tour guide to take you from place to place, and plan fun excursions. They’re also relatively cheap because they use the same hotels, hostels, tour companies, and local business so frequently that they are able to get everything cheaper than it would be if you went on your own. 

You also have the benefits of student discounts, so remember to bring your ID with you and ask if you can use it wherever you go! These perks make traveling while you’re young much easier because the total cost of the trip will be significantly less than you would pay in the future if you decide to take the same trip. 

13. It makes you more independent 

When you’re younger, if you’re anything like me, you may a bit timid and shy. This means that having to get around for the day in a foreign country by yourself can be a bit nerve-wracking, but those moments of travel are good for you, even if they’re a bit unsettling.

I remember there was one day when I was in Paris and everyone that I was friends with on my tour decided that they wanted to spend the day at Chipotle and relaxing in the hostel. I thought this was absolutely crazy. “We’re in PARIS guys! You can have a burrito bowl when you get home!” So I had no choice but to go off by myself if I wanted to do anything interesting. At first I was completely terrified and scared of being alone. What if I got lost and couldn’t find my way back?! But I ended up walking all around Paris and seeing the entire city. I saw the major attractions and went to places like the oldest bookstore in the city to buy a book and tried the best hot chocolate in Paris. I got pictures EVERYWHERE, ate as many macaroons as I could get my hands on, and ended the night watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It ended up working out perfectly because I was able to do so much more that day than I would have done if I was with a group of 5 or 6 girls. And I realized that I’m much more independent and capable than I thought. I was so proud of myself by the end of the day and so fulfilled by getting around a foreign city all by myself that it became one of the most memorable days of the tour. 

14. Travel makes you more accepting of others

Another reason why I believe that it’s vitally important to travel while you’re young is because it makes you much more accepting of other people.

I feel that today, we need this lesson more than ever. There’s been so much hatred in America fueled by the media in recent years. Mostly because media channels learned that they can make money by pinning people against each other and because this last presidential election was “harrible.” Hugely, “biggly,” and catastrophicly “harrible.”

Because of this we’ve become accustomed to getting offended if someone has a different opinion or experience than us and rejecting them. Our country has been in a place where all people do is fight and hate people who are different. It’s especially toxic for all of the younger generations who are impressionable and mimic the behavior they see while growing up. And I’m not just talking about children. I’m talking about the teens and college students (like myself) that watched all the adult figures in their lives turn against each other for a solid year because of this last poisonous election.

My concern is that if THIS is how people feel about other American citizens than what is our perspective of the rest of the world’s population? If we can’t even learn to live in harmony with our neighbors, how do plan on having successful international relations? Today more than ever, I feel it’s important for people to get outside of their own inner circle and learn about the rest of the world. To learn about different cultures and different views, but most importantly learn that we can all be accepting and COEXIST.

I can hear my grandma in my head right now saying her famous line, “Haven’t people ever heard of the word HUMAN?! We’re all HUMAN!”

15. “Life is short and the world is wide.” – Simon Raven

Last but not least on my list of why it’s important to travel while you’re young is that there’s a HUGE world out there and life is short. Not to end on a morbid note, but a long life is not guaranteed to any of us. You have no idea what could happen in the future. I would love it if the universe would grant each and every one of us a long, healthy, and happy life, but it doesn’t work that way. People get sick and accidents happen. It’s best to fill your life with the experiences that you dream of while you can instead of putting things off for a perpetual “someday.” “Someday I’ll rent an RV and travel around the country.” “Someday I’ll see the seven wonders of the world.” “Someday I’ll go to Thailand.”

Someday is not set in stone. Someday is not promised. 

Traveling & Social Media 

Before I wrap up this post, I didn’t feel as if I could close up this week’s blog post without mentioning social media (particularly Instagram) and traveling. It felt irresponsible to share this post without addressing the problem of people traveling solely for getting attention and become famous online.

One of my favorite travel bloggers and Instagram influencers is Aggie, better known as “Travel In Her Shoes.” She’s someone who became very famous for her love of travel. She would travel for months and months at a time before she even was on Instagram and would take photos just for herself. She lived a very traditional life as most of us do for a while. She went to college, graduated, got a corporate job and was MISERABLE. So Aggie and her boyfriend at the time decided that they wanted to live a life of adventure and passion. They bought an old sailboat online, sold all of their possessions, fixed up the boat, and set sail from Mexico to Australia. Their story got picked up and since that day she’s made a career of her traveling and living the life that many of us can only dream of.

But Aggie recently opened up in a social media post this week about a topic that I believe needs to be talked about. Her Instagram post was inspired by a recent Ted Talk given by Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “paying attention” vs. “getting attention.” The talk is called “How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative.” The Ted Talk is amazing and I HIGHLY recommend watching it as soon as you can. He talks about how (as a result of social media) most people today now view their creativity as a means to GET attention rather than paying attention, enjoying yourself, and collaborating with other creatives.

Aggie shared that traveling used to be very much about paying attention. It was a way to get out of your small little bubble, disconnect with family and friends, find yourself, and fall in love with another country. She admits that now, due to social media and influencers like herself, traveling has become a way to GET attention. “[People] sign up for a sort of their own Truman Show,” as she puts it. They get addicted to waking up each day and getting attention from their followers as they post gorgeous travel photos and share their stories. Because of that, they’re afraid to go back to their normal lives. They’re afraid that if they do, they will be forgotten and won’t receive praise from their online following. And that’s exactly what happened to her. The addiction to keep showing up, traveling, and getting attention is what caused her a falling out with the man she was in love with, getting extremely sick this year, losing her hair, and falling into a depression. Since then, she’s taken a step back and slowed down on traveling and focused on herself more.

I want to talk about this issue because the sad truth is that many people today travel just as a way to get likes and followers. People sign up for trips, buy expensive clothes for their photos, and spend their entire vacation staring at their phone. I can’t say that I’m above this myself. I will admit, my motto was “do it for the gram” for several years there, and my travels were a part of that too. But that’s NOT what travel is about. Travel should be about the reasons I listed above, not to become the next big travel blogger or YouTuber! It defeats the entire purpose of travel. So if you are going to book your next flight, remember that exploring the world is about the reasons I listed above, not about the social media posts that will come as a result. Travel is about PAYING attention, not GETTING attention.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online! I hope that this post was entertaining and I hope that it inspired someone out there to go on an adventure. If it does, PLEASE reach out to me!

A special shout out to one of my Gram (who is somewhere in Morocco right now living her best life) for being my role model, for passing on her travel bug to me, and helping me to come up with ONE more reason for traveling while you’re young (just because I liked the sound of “15 Reasons” more than “14 Reasons).” Not only is she the source of inspiration for this week’s blog post, but she’s also my #1 supporter and reader. Hi Gram (: I love you very much.

Lastly, please send your thoughts and prayers to my incredible friend and photographer Ray Reyes and his family who lost his father, Edd Reyes, very suddenly last week. You can read Ray’s most amazing, tear jerking words about his father’s life in his Facebook post here. And thank you for your patience as there’s been a delay in getting blog posts published at this time. But as we all know, family is more important.

“Time is the most precious commodity we can share with our loved ones. With time, you can do all you need to do and say all you need to say. But you can’t wait forever, because time has already passed, the time is absolutely now and we have no idea how much time we have in our futures.” – Ray Reyes

Remember to comment your thoughts below. I love hearing from you! Can you think of any other reasons why Lost Online readers should prioritize traveling while they’re young? What are they? Did you have a favorite reason on this list? What was it? Do you have a travel bug too? Where’s your next adventure going to take you? Did this post inspire you to take a trip anytime soon? Do you have a family member that has been influential in your travels too?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto and Allen Fajardo @alewafeni.

What’s in the Mail? Muscle MX + My New Favorite Products

Product Reviews, What's in the Mail?

Hello, and welcome to my brand new section of the website called “What’s In The Mail?”

If you’ve been a loyal reader and Instagram follower of mine, then you’re already very familiar with my boyfriend Matt, the emotional support behind Lost Online. He keeps me sane through all the ups and downs of building a successful blog from the ground up. But when he’s not giving me hugs, cuddles, and words of encouragement his REAL job is with IRONMAN Triathlon as an Account Executive of Expo Sales.

At every race, health and wellness brands that are interested in exhibiting their products to a large and active lifestyle audience pay to be a part of the IRONMAN Village Expo. Matt sells expo space for triathlons and marathons all across the country. While negotiating with these companies they sometimes offer to send him free samples of their product. 

Since Matt started working for IRONMAN he and I have been able to test out a wide variety of products that suddenly show up in our mailbox, from activewear laundry detergent to Keto bricks, to Chaga Mushroom shots, and EVERYTHING CBD – pills, creams, sprays, tinctures, you name it. Since we always seem to be trying out some new health and wellness-related product that we haven’t heard of before, he and I thought it would be fun to create mini-reviews on whatever happens to show up in the mail!

This is where Matt and I will showcase and review what we received and each of our thoughts on the product. This new section of the blog is a little bit different than the reviews that I typically do where I create a full blog post and take photos. I prefer to only create entire blog posts on products that I’m really obsessed with because of the amount of time, work, and energy that goes into creating a post.

“What’s in the Mail?” is going to be mini-reviews of products that we received and both of our thoughts on the products. I thought this could be interesting for you all to read since the majority of the time he and I have opposing opinions on the products. I hope you enjoy this new addition to the site and make sure to stay tuned to discover what could possibly be your new favorite health and wellness products.

I just want to throw it out there that we will NOT be trying to CONVINCE people to send us products or asking for products in exchange for a review. We’re simply reviewing the samples that have been given to us and providing our honest thoughts. We have such a good time experimenting with our new samples anyways that I thought why not share it with you all too! After all, we love trying them and the companies are hoping for word of mouth advertising and exposure anyways!

So what’s in our mailbox this week? Muscle MX CBD Balm

This new CBD product was made with the belief that no one should be constrained from leading a full and active life because of pain and discomfort and that the healing powers of cannabinoids and other all-natural ingredients exemplify an active lifestyle. By developing innovative ways for people to apply and utilize cannabis, the creators of Muscle MX believe that can help people improve their lives by living freely.

Before I get into my own review of this product, I’ll first share Matt’s (: He’s been in many photos of the blog before, but this time you get to read his own words! Next go around, we’ll make sure to get some of his love-able personality in the post for you. 

Matt’s Thoughts: 

Muscle MX CBD Balm is a product that I will definitely be using again. It has significantly helped with my neck and knee pain. The two different balms that were given to me were the extra strength heating and extra strength cooling.

The balms come in an easy to use “deodorant roller” cartridge that makes the application super easy and no mess and balm residue is left over on your hands. You just roll the bottom part clockwise to get more of the balm to show! This applicator is a nice feature. The balm does take a bit to kick in but once it does you can really feel the cooling/heating ingredients in the product. The only downside to the balm is that it sticks when put on under your clothes and it is not fast drying, so take that into account when using.

For the benefits of the balm, I have been using both and when my muscles ache or I have sore joints for exercising, I put this on and within about 15 minutes it significantly reduces the pain. I use both in conjunction with each other. The heating balm really helps to loosen up the muscles and joints and then followed up with the cooling, helps to relieve any pain that I have.

I would highly recommend this product to anyone who is highly active and works out 5-6 days a week. Great product for those people who do endurance esports and put a lot of wear and tear on the knees!

Heather’s Thoughts:

I like that I tried this product now, instead of a year ago, because luckily I now have a lot of products that I can compare this to in my mind. I have tried MANY different topical pain products because of Matt’s job, the wellness fairs we go to, and my own research and curiosity. I’ve been on the hunt for good pain relief products whether they include CBD in the ingredients or not. Matt and I are both active people and we both have knots in our necks and backs like you wouldn’t believe! For that reason, I’ve tried very similar items that don’t appear to have done anything special for me, but with this one, I can say that it does work and it’s fast-acting. Unlike many other things I’ve tried, it helps relieve the ache relatively fast.

My biggest problem area, as far as pain goes, is right in between my shoulder blades. That’s where I collect stubborn knots because they’re in a spot that’s so difficult to get to and loosen up without the help of a masseuse. However, after I applied this product, I noticed that the ache started to fade to the point where I had forgotten I was even in pain. I didn’t have to take a pill or have Matt massage the area, it just started to slowly feel better until I thought nothing of it. 

What I like about this product too, is that there’s an Activate Balm for heated relief and a Recovery Balm for cooling relief. I particularly like the Activate Balm for heated relief especially in the evenings before bed because I like the warming effect. The cool one I could see using right after a workout or maybe in the morning because it feels more refreshing. 

The one downside was I noticed with this product is that it was sticky. Whenever we use the product it tends to make the containers gross and sticky so you have to whip them off with a paper towel after. Even though it comes in a roll-on package like deodorant, there’s always some product that goes over the plastic when you apply it on yourself. Then when you put the cap back on it pushes the access product down the container. It’s the same problem you’ll notice when you apply chapstick or deodorant, but Muscle MX is pretty goopy and sticky, so it makes the package and your hands a little bit messy. It’s nothing that a paper towel can’t fix, but it is a bit inconvenient. This is also another reason I prefer to use it at night. I also recommend using this product when you’re wearing a t-shirt you don’t care about. However, the good thing is that the products came in a little black bag so we can store them without them getting anything else sticky.

I will say I wasn’t 100% blown away with these two products. My #1 go-to topical treatment for pain is still Deep Blue Essential Oil by doTERRA, BUT Muscle MX does work and is worth a try. I like to use it for dull aches and pains, but if I was in A LOT of pain I will still reach for ibuprofen or Deep Blue Essential Oil.

The other pro about these products is that they aren’t expensive. To get the bundle with both the Active and Recovery Balm like we have, it only cost $30. The price is very comparable to similar CBD products on the market. Overall, I think Muscle MX is worth a try, especially if you’re someone who is REALLY interested in CBD and trying out new CBD items. 

What I’m Loving Lately

At the end of these posts, I thought it would also be fun to share what products I’m loving right now. These are products that I use constantly or I’m very obsessed with, but I don’t have enough to say about each of them individually to warrant an entire blog post. Here’s what I’ve been loving as of late:

1. Body products from Neob Niagara.

Some of you probably already know that I recently took a very spontaneous trip up to Niagara Falls with my grandmother and my cousin, Devon. It was a quick trip up and back, but during our short weekend there it was wonderful. One of the highlights of my trip was going to Neob Niagara, which I found out about through Instagram. It’s a business that has lavender fields and other flowers and herbs that they grow on the property. They offer tours and lavender picking, and let you roam around the fields taking majestic pictures surrounded by lavender.

They also sell many different body products and essential oils that they create themselves. There’s everything from body sprays, soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners, cleaning products, and much more. I decided that while I was there I wanted to bring back some products especially since I’m fragrance-free and loved the idea of bringing back body products that were created from the very flowers I saw with my own eyes. Oddly enough, I came back with mostly rose scented products! Although, the company is most known for their “Glorious Lavender” I’m obsessed with their Rose Geranium products. There’s something so lovely and feminine about Rose, that it’s one of my favorite scents. I decided to try their Rose Geranium Body Spritz, Rose Geranium Whipped Butter, Rose Geranium Body Lotion, and Glorious Lavender Rosemary Shampoo

Since I’ve bought these products I’ve been using the body mist and lotions constantly. They feel so luxurious and smell better than any other fragrance-free lotion or product I’ve been using. Plus they feel particularly special having walked through those fields of flowers myself. And of course, they smell absolutely incredible! I use the hand cream morning and night, the body mist when I’m about to walk out the door into the hot Florida sun, and the lotion every night after my shower. My absolute favorite products is the Rose Spritz, because it’s like wearing a subtle perfume. It smells lovely, and it isn’t overwhelming. If you’re interested in trying them yourself, you can find the products on their website at neobniagara.com.

2. Rose Quartz Stone Bracelet

The next product that I’m absolutely loving is this gorgeous stone bracelet that I bought from a quaint little apothecary in the historical town of Niagara-on-the-Lake called Maison Apothecare. The stone is made from rose quartz beads, wooden beads, and one lava stone beads. I completely fell in love with the color of the bracelet the moment I saw it, and love it even more once I learned that you can put essential oils on the lava stone to make it even more special. I don’t know how much you would actually be able to smell it throughout the day, but I still loved the idea. I knew from the moment that I saw this bracelet it was perfect for me. It’s so beautiful and so feminine, I’ve been wearing it ever since. 

3. Brown, Beaded Indie Market Bracelet

The next product that I’ve been obsessed with lately, is a second stone bracelet that I bought in St. Pete at the Indie Market that happens every Thursday evening. The bracelet was created by Mystic Sisters and is a beautiful stone bracelet with gorgeous brown and nude coloring in it. The reason why I love it so much is because it flatters my skin tone perfectly. At first, I thought I was the only person who noticed that but since I bought this bracelet, I’ve gotten so many compliments on how pretty it is and how it flatters my skin tone. Several of those comments were actually from MEN!

I don’t know about you but I think that means a lot. How often do men compliment us on something like jewelry… especially a compliment that specific?! That’s how you know it’s a beautiful piece of jewelry when even men take the time to point it out! I’ve been in love with this bracelet since the moment I bought it that I’ve been wearing it almost every day. I especially love wearing it along with my rose quartz bracelet.

4. Maison Apothecare Facial Brightening Serum

Next, is another product from Maison Apothecare – their facial brightening serum! The serum is right up there with Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum and the Iluma Brightening Serum in my opinion. It’s so luxurious and you can see the serum brightening up your skin the moment you start to apply it. It works so well and makes my skin so beautiful that I wish I could use it twice a day, however the directions say to only use the product at night time about 3-4 times a day. This is one product I’ll mostly likely re-order because you all know my obsession with serums at this point. I may have a bit of an unhealthy addiction to serums…

5. doTERRA Rose Touch

My next favorite product that I’ve been using each and every day is my new doTERRA Rose Touch roll-on essential oil. (I’m starting to notice a bit of a rose theme in this post today.) This essential oil quickly became one of my all-time favorite doTERRA products. This is the one essential oil that I don’t use for health, cleaning, or beauty purposes, but rather I use it as a perfume! It’s such a soft, subtle, and feminine scent, and I think it smells absolutely amazing. What I love about this product is that it’s rose essential oil, NOT rose-scented perfume, so it smells very flattering, but is also very natural. It doesn’t smell like you’re wearing perfume, it smells like you use a nice rose-scented soap.

I also love this product because it comes in a roll-on package, so it’s easy to apply just like a roll-on perfume. I started using this product daily, so now I keep it right on my jewelry dish and I put it on at the same time as my jewelry before I walk out of the door.

6. Autumn’s Aqua Acrylic Pour Painting

Last, but certainly, not least is a painting that was created by my sister, Autumn. She’s a painter, photographer, and a student at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Autumn, recently started to create these stunning, blue acrylic pour paintings! She sells them on her Etsy and started to promote her paintings on Instagram too. One day she created a few of these acrylic pours and shared them online and I loved this one the second I saw it.

I’m definitely not promoting this for the sake of my sister getting some eyes on her Etsy, I genuinely love this painting. If you don’t already know (even though my social media does a good job of giving it away) my absolute favorite colors are turquoise and blues and I’m obsessed with acrylic pour paintings. They’re so simple, yet so beautiful at the same time. I had my sister let me know the moment she uploaded it to Etsy and I bought the painting immediately. The only downside is that Matt and I are currently out of wall space for new artwork, so I’ve had it propped up against a wall so I can at least enjoy it! She creates a bunch of pieces similar to this one and even created a blue acrylic pour skateboard, which I believe is still available!

And that’s it for my favorite products at the moment and for “What’s in the Mail?”

I hope you all love this new addition to the blog! As always let me know what you think in the comments! Did you like this new addition to the website? Is there anything in particular you want us to review? Are you interested in seeing more of my favorite products?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression with Herbology & Self Love

Health & Wellness, Self-Help

I made an appointment. I filled out the forms. I was asked personal questions. The health professionals checked my pulse and tongue. By the end of my appointment, the herbalists all reached the same diagnosis: my heart was broken.

Seeing a Western Herbalist?

Years ago if you would have told me that whenever I got sick I would be seeking out the help of an herbalist over a doctor, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sometimes we surprise ourselves like that.

It all started several months back when I ended up getting really sick. I was suffering from tonsillitis that wouldn’t go away, chronic stomach aches every night that lasted hours, and what I thought was my fourth or fifth breast infection. So of course, I went to the doctor. And then another doctor, and then another doctor, and then another and another and another. I had so many appointments, but they always ended up going the same way. The doctor would shoo me out as fast as possible, give me a prescription, and say that they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

After experiencing that for many months in a row, I finally decided to change my methods. I decided to instead go to Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla. I enjoyed my experience and their holistic approach at Traditions so much that when I started to experience depression, getting in for an appointment was my top priority. No way was I going to take random depression pills. Nope. I had already tried that once before when I was a teenager.

I am not at all saying that taking pills is wrong and I know that for some people it is extremely helpful, especially for those who suffer from clinical depression. But pills don’t work for me and I’ve found that they tend to only create weird side effects for me. Plus, being so involved in self-help, health, and wellness, seeing a traditional doctor and going on pills was not at all what I wanted to do. Instead, I was going to go to the Herbal Clinic and go about healthily treating depression by trying to heal from the inside out, not cover up the depression with a band-aid.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression

If you’ve never been to an herbal clinic before, it’s the exact opposite experience of seeing a traditional doctor. The approach at herbal clinics is to get to the root of the problem, rather than treat a symptom. The herbalist will sit with you for an hour or more discussing EVERYTHING from your mental health to digestion. They also use very traditional methods that have been used for centuries before we had people in lab coats with medical degrees throwing pills around like candy on Halloween. At the Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Pete, they specifically use a mixture of Western and Chinese Herbalism. In each visit, they will examine your pulse in nine different places on each wrist to get an idea of how the organs are functioning, and they do a tongue examination. 

The way the appointment works when you go to the student clinic is you sit with them for about an hour and go over everything with them. They write down their thoughts and theories on what’s going on with your body, then one of the owners comes in to make sure it’s correct and to see if they have any other recommendations or additions. The owners include Dr. Bob Linde, AP, DOM, RH(AHG) and Renee Crozier, RH(AHG). (You could choose to see the owners themselves, however, it does cost more money.) I saw Allison for my appointment and then Renee who specializes in cancer care and traditional healing.

After you see both the student and the owner and discuss your health history, systems, diet, lifestyle, digestion, etc., they put together a very specific herbal formula for you and create a wellness plan. The formula and wellness plan that they put together have very specific recommendations that are supposed to help you to heal physically, spiritually, AND mentally. This is exactly the approach that I wanted to take to treating depression. I wanted to sit with someone who talked to me rather than shooed me out of the office and I wanted to be put on a holistic formula rather than with pharmaceutical drugs that only address a symptom. I also decided to begin regular therapy. Which, if you’re interested in hearing about that, make sure to read my last post, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.”

My Appointment

Disclaimer: I just want to say that the people at Tradition’s Herbal Clinic are extremely knowledgeable in traditional healing and herbalism, so I know I’m not doing their hypothesis justice by trying to explain it myself. But I will try the best I can!

The day I went in for my appointment I filled out all the paperwork and health history information. After that, Allison took my paperwork with her to review for a few minutes and then we started. She asked me all sorts of questions related to what I wrote down, discussed my symptoms with me, checked my pulse and tongue, and even asked me very personal questions about my lifestyle and relationships. Renee then joined us about mid-way through the appointment. 

About an hour and fifteen minutes, both Renee and Allison had come to a conclusion that I’ve never heard before from any kind of doctor or health appointment I’ve had: they concluded that I was suffering from a broken heart.

They shared with me that just as we have PHYSICAL organs like the heart and the brain, we also have SPIRITUAL ones. We have a physical heart just as we have a spiritual heart and they’re both connected. Meaning that when we’re having problems in the body they can manifest as mental issues and vice versa.

In my case, they believed that I have a broken heart, and because of outside influences and comments that I had stored in my memory and internalized, I had also developed awful self-talk. All of this sadness and negativity was building up in my heart and my mind creating depression and symptoms in my physical body. They believed that if I didn’t get a hold on it and heal myself that those mental issues could later manifest in the body and create serious diseases as I age, such as coronary artery disease.

Herbalist Recommendations & Wellness Plan

To heal my body and my heart, Renee and Allison recommended I drink loose leaf tea twice a day that they made for me later that night. The tea is made from a mixture of eight different herbs including schizandra berry, tulsi, eose, hawthorn berry, hibiscus, and passion flower. They also wanted me to take a flower essence tincture three times a day by placing four drops of the essence under my tongue. Aside from their formula they would create for me, Renee and Allison wanted me to be taking Probiotics REGULARLY (not just when the mood strikes) as well as magnesium and vitamin D supplements.

Above all, they wanted me to work on my mindset, my self-talk, and learn to love myself. (Easier said than done, right?) Their suggestions for this were to get three different books that they felt could help me the most, but they wanted me to listen to audiobooks because I remember better when I hear something rather than read it. Two of the three audiobooks they recommended included, “The Four Agreements,” and “The Fifth Agreement,” both by Miguel Ruiz. They believed that I would benefit if I learned to adopt the agreements: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best.

They also believed that I could gain some insight from these books by learning about HOW we make agreements with ourselves and internalize beliefs. They also thought that it would help me learn about how humans spew emotional poison onto others creating more unhappiness on an individual scale which has a ripple effect out into the rest of the world.

The last audiobook they wanted me to listen to is “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. This one is about how our limiting beliefs and ideas are often the cause of illness and how we can change our thinking to improve the quality of our lives. 

Lastly, Renee and Allison wanted me to talk to myself. Also not something I was expecting to hear! They wanted me to talk to myself out loud and in my mind giving myself compliments or saying affirmations. The hope this that though me doing this regularly, my mindset will start to shift and become more loving and compassionate towards myself rather than being an invisible bully that follows me all day.

Those are my herbalist’s recommendations for helping with the depression that I’ve been experiencing from all the stress and big life changes over the last year. From here on I’m supposed to follow their recommendations for the next month until my second appointment. Then I’ll have a follow-up appointment where I’ll go back to meet with Allison and Renee and they’ll examine me again to provide new recommendations to incorporate and to discuss my next round of healing with a second herbal formula. 

My Self-Love Challenge

Because I have an entire month left of taking their advice before the next appointment, I thought it would be nice to make this month a time of serious self-love. Because not only do I want to go into that next appointment having made progress and taking their suggestions seriously, but I also want to see if shifting your mindset is even possible in the first place. I know it must be possible because all the books and blogs talk about it, but I’ve always been so skeptical about whether I could do it myself. Could I REALLY shift my mindset and get rid of my negative self-talk? I hope so. 

So I decided to layout a month-long self-love routine for myself that will help me heal in more ways that one. Here’s my month-long self-love practice!

Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routine – This one may seem very random, but when I got stuck in my rut I was extremely lazy and unmotivated. Throughout all my life I have always had a pretty involved skincare routine complete with oil, a cleansing, a toner, a serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and SPF. But when I felt so low, I could hardly bring myself to wash my face. Now, I’m making it a point to focus on my skin again first thing in the morning and at the end of the day as well. 

Moisturize – I recently came back with all of these gorgeous lotions and body products from my super spontaneous trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. So as part of my self-love practice, I will also make it a point to moisturize after a shower. As much as I hate the idea that people think self-love and self-care is PAMPERING because it’s NOT, I’ve been completely neglecting those things after I started to feel low. Adopting this simple act of pampering is just one way that I’m showing love and appreciation for myself by taking those few moments just to make myself feel good on the outside, which I believe can also make you feel good on the inside. 

Self Love Reflection – Next I’m incorporating a self-love reflection into the day whether it’s through stream of consciousness journaling or quietly reflecting on something that I love about myself or that I’m proud of. The point is to help me get rid of the negative self-talk by slowly replacing it with happier and more pleasant thoughts that lift me up. 

Affirmations – I’ll admit I’m super new to affirmations. I hadn’t come across any affirmations that spoke to me and I NEVER remembered to do them. But to me, it seemed too weird walking around my apartment throughout the day telling myself compliments as Allison recommended. I decided that as my way of “talking to myself” as she suggested, I would find a list of affirmations and I would say them aloud to myself and meditate on them. This way has been working well for me because I don’t have to think up what I want to say. I instead pick an affirmation for the day and repeat that affirmation until I feel like it’s sinking in. If I’m feeling extra motivated I will read through a list of affirmations or pick several. But either way I pick one affirmation for the day, repeat it for several minutes in the morning, and then make it a point to remind myself the affirmation throughout the day by writing it down in the morning and keeping it close by.

My absolute favorite list of affirmations that I discovered came from Peaceful Banyan Tree in an article titled, “20 Powerful Affirmations of All Time.” I LOVE this list because it covers positive thinking, health, confidence, self-worth, happiness, letting go, money, success, stress, and today. It hits on all of the areas that bring us full-body health and wellness. For that reason, this list has resonated with me and helped me choose my morning affirmation with ease.

  • I am able to find positivity in every situation.
  • I create only positive thoughts and radiate positivity.
  • I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
  • I am taking good care of my mental and physical health.
  • I am becoming a better version of myself every day.
  • I am confident to overcome any hurdles.
  • I know my self-worth and I am worthy of the best.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am overflowing with happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
  • I choose happiness over doubt and fear.
  • I forgive myself and everyone else for all the mistakes.
  • I choose to release hurt and resentment.
  • I am a money magnet and attract money easily.
  • The universe is creating opportunities for me to earn more and more money.
  • I see success and abundance everywhere.
  • I am becoming more and more successful every day.
  • Every breath I take fills my soul with calmness and ease.
  • I am at peace now.
  • Today is the most beautiful day.
  • Today I lay the foundation for a wonderful future.

If you’d like some more ideas, make sure to check out my “Mantras” board on Pinterest @LostOnlineBlog.

Pray – After doing my morning affirmation, I decided that I would end with a prayer. I ask the universe to help me take the affirmation into the day, and for help in healing and becoming my highest self. I don’t have a script and what I say tends to vary each day. I always speak from the heart and say whatever feels good at the moment. This is my favorite part of my daily ritual because it makes me feel so at peace.

Supplements and Herbs – For the longest time I completely stopped taking my supplements or I would take them very randomly. But the thing is with supplements you have to take them for an extended period to actually receive and notice the benefit of it. For example, when I started taking biotin for my hair and nails, I didn’t notice how much it helped until at least three months later. Now, as part of my self-love practice, I’m making my supplements and my herbs one of my top priorities along with my formula from Tradition’s Herbal Clinic.

Audio Books – In the afternoon or evening that’s when I’ll be incorporating the audiobooks that were recommended to me. Whether it’s at the gym, in the afternoon when I’m done working, or as I’m getting ready for bed, this is where I’ll take the time to absorb all of that knowledge that my herbalists believe will help. So far I’ve listened to “The Four Agreements” and part of “The Fifth Agreement.” I like them so far because the advice is so simple, but I can see how if you adopt The Four Agreements you could be free from all of the dramas that cause us so much pain, and also have greater self-love. 

Gratitude – At this point, you all are very familiar with how much I believe in my gratitude practice, so I won’t rehash all the benefits again. You can check out my blog post, “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” or “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.” But it should come as no surprise that when I started to feel so low that I could hardly get myself moving for the day, so of course I didn’t end up sticking to this ritual either. So I’m making it a point to reinstate gratitude in my day. 

Read – Whenever I fall into a funk, I always tend to start numbing with Netflix, which always makes me feel so much worse in the end. I feel as if I’m unproductive and lazy and like I didn’t accomplish anything important. I decided that as part of my self-love ritual I would stop watching shows and instead read in bed every night, not just when the mood strikes. I’m so happy that I’ve adopted this one because I already had so many great conversations with people over our shared love for the book that I’m reading right now: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Meditate – Last but not least is meditation. I’ve been following along with the happiness series on the Headspace app lately and it’s helped me to find some peace and serenity right before I go to bed and fall asleep. I’m such a night owl that usually the moment my head hits the pillow I’m 100% awake, but whenever I meditate before bed that’s not the case. I’ve adopted this last habit because not only will it help me feel a sense of calmness in my mind, but it will also help me to take care of myself by falling asleep at a reasonable hour and be able to wake up earlier than usual. 

How is it going?

It’s now been two weeks since I went to the herbal clinic and got my formula. I’ve been taking it every day aside from the days when I was in Pennsylvania and Ontario because I didn’t want to lose it or be questioned about my brown paper bag of herbs at the airport. I don’t know if the formula is what’s helping or if it’s a combination of self-love practices, supplements, herbs, and books.

I do feel much better than I did before though. I have finally pulled myself out of my latest funk and I’m hoping I’ll keep feeling this way for at least a few weeks. I think what is actually helping me the most is that I LOVE trying out wellness practices and products, so I don’t know if it’s their suggestions exactly, or if I’m just so excited to now be going to therapy and to get to test out all of these recommendations and share my experience. 

I have been feeling incredibly proud of myself though because I didn’t think I would be able to take so many recommendations from someone and incorporate it into my life with such ease. I mean really, I have a hard enough following my dentists one simple piece of advice – floss. But I really want to get better, so I’ve been doing everything! 

Lastly, I just wanted to share that this is how I’m treating my depression right now. I’m seeing a therapist, seeing an herbalist, and adopting self-love. I hope that you find some nuggets of wisdom in here that might help you, however, I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE treat depression by repeating affirmations or taking probiotics. Some people do need medication and some people have serious clinical depression and suicidal thoughts that an herbalist is not equipped to fix. If you’re suffering from depression I HIGHLY suggest that you see a doctor and a therapist. Just keep in mind that these things like rituals, books, and supplements can serve a purpose too, and I believe that trying a mixture of traditional and holistic recommendations will help you heal the fastest. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for reading and make sure to let me know you’re thoughts in the comments! I’m particularly interested to hear what people think about this post and how I’m going about healing myself. 

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you get any ideas from it? Have you had depression before? How did you go about treating it? What worked for you? Do you believe in going using a mixture of traditional and herbal treatments or do you believe one is better than the other?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

What it Really Means to be Healthy: Primary and Secondary Foods Explained

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Spirituality

I don’t know about you, but for years I feel like I’ve been on a mission to reach perfect health, whatever that means. I’ve bought countless supplements, eaten organic, tried tons of lifestyle changes, and bought a string of random products, but nothing has really changed. I wouldn’t say that now my apartment is filled with supplements and chemical-free products that I feel like I can give myself a gold star for just how wonderfully healthy I’ve become. I’d be willing to bet that you can’t either. No one can. So what does it really mean to be healthy? How do we know that we’ve figured it out? What advice, products, or changes really matter if we want to improve our health long term?

What does it mean to be healthy?

I learned a fun fact this week at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I learned that the word health comes from the old English word HALE meaning wholeness; being whole, sound, or well. The word and its meaning has changed over time and today health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not JUST the absence of disease. Therefore health is a dynamic concept, not a fixed outcome. 

Yet today we live in a society where organizations, companies, brands, celebrities, and influencers are always blasting information at us about how we SHOULD be. That’s how they make money and sell us products, diets, pills, and food that promise to help us reach the destination of perfect health. If we just follow their advice, buy the program, or purchase the pill, eventually shiny golden doors will open up and we’ll be welcomed into the land of perfect health. If we can only get there, then we’ll finally have flawless digestion, glowing skin, a tiny waist, a toned body, strong bones, luscious hair, and most importantly HAPPINESS. Right?

Sadly, that’s not how it works. I love my Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer, my detox teas, my almond yogurt, but I know that they’re never going to bring me this fantasy that I have in my head of perfect health. Why? Because there is NO SUCH THING as perfect health.

Health is much more like a journey than a destination. (Ugh, I hate how cliche that sounds! Sorry!) It’s about making changes that improve your health and HAPPINESS in several areas of your life, not just about buying organic or sculpting a six-pack. 

The flawed outlook of health

We can go round and round all day about our flawed health care system, so I’m not going to address all of those major issues in this blog post. You’d be reading this post until the end of time, and we both have sh*t to do. But what I am going to talk about is ONE major issue that I see when we talk about health, and it’s that health is a destination with a specific path you take on how to get there. This path could be diets, exercise, detoxing, supplements, acupuncture, etc. It’s whatever YOU have been told what health should look like in your life. Maybe it’s never eating, or laying in a sensory deprivation tank every month, or drinking celery juice. 

There’s a very flawed approach to health today where people believe that if you just follow a specific set of rules you’ll be “healthy.” Then, to top off this crazy theory that health is a destination, we have magazines, social media accounts, and brands that put out these filtered, photoshopped images of fitness models, further adding to this illusion that there’s a magical land of sexy, healthy, superhuman, happy people who have it all figured out. 

Here’s the thing, not only is perfect health something that can’t be bought or accomplished through a set of rules and diets, BUT health is also NOT only about what you put in your stomach. It’s not about how much kale you eat, about how disciplined you are in avoiding sugar and dairy, or about taking supplements every day. Health is complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

The wiser approach to health and wellness

As a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and a future Integrative Health Coach, I’m learning about a newer, wiser approach to full body health and wellness, and you can’t buy it at Whole Foods. The idea that IIN and it’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal, share is that human beings are nurtured by both Primary Foods and Secondary Foods. Can you guess what they might be?

Primary Foods 

Upon first guess, you might think that Primary Foods are actual food right? At least I did. But it’s the opposite. Primary Foods are the most important things in our lives and impact our health far more than the chia seeds. Primary Foods are broken down into relationships, physical activity, career, and spirituality. If these things are out of whack in our lives then we’re far less healthy. We’re far more likely to have diseases and far less likely to have life satisfaction.

“Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life.” – Joshua Rosenthal

Although it’s important to understand what people are eating, to find what works for their unique body, and to make improvements in those areas of their lives as well, all of that is secondary to the quality of people’s life. I’ve heard so many stories and studies from doctors and researches who have proved that how happy people are in their relationships determines how healthy they are and how long they live. People who have toxic relationships or a lonely, are much more susceptible to disease and have a much shorter life span. 

Side Note: If you’d like to learn about my absolute favorite study on this, check out this Ted talk video on the longest study that’s ever been conducted on happiness. This video is all about researchers have tracked the lives of 2 groups of men since 1938. The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College, finished college during WWII, and most of which went off to serve in the war. The second group was a group of boys from one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. This group was specifically chosen because they were from some of the troubled and disadvantaged families in the 1930s.

This study has been going on for over 75 years and has studied the original men as well as all of their children and grandchildren they’ve brought in to the world. This study is extremely in-depth and goes as far as to interview the men on the phone and in their living rooms, examine their medical records, scan their brains, draw blood, interview family members. The research staff even goes as far as to videotape the men talking to their wives about their deepest concerns. It’s a very intensive study that’s closely examined these men for decades. What they’ve found after 75+ years of research later is this… Good relationships keep us happier AND healthier.

The hundreds of thousands of pages of research and the last 75+ years prove above all else that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. The people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer than the people who are less connected. Loneliness, on the other hand, turns out to be toxic. People who are less connected and more isolated than they want to be are less happy, their health declines earlier in mid-life, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives. If you have some time today, this is one of my all-time favorite Ted Talks and health studies that I’ve heard of and it’s definitely worth a watch.

1. Relationships

The first (and more important aspect of primary foods if you ask me) is our relationships. Relationships are the number one thing that feed us and have the largest impact on the quality of our lives. It doesn’t have to be a relationship between you and a partner. It includes your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Anyone and everyone who is in your life and the quality of the relationship you have with them.

Today, these relationships are weaker due to social media and the internet. Technology has created the illusion that we’re connected and in a relationship with people, even though it’s through a screen. More and more we’re living isolated lives, and it used to not be like this. People once lived in multi-generational homes, lived in the same city their entire lives, and carried friends with them far into old age. Now it’s different. You may be “friends” with someone online, but never even speak to them in person. Those types of relationships don’t fill us up and make us happy and healthy.

Relationships are also in turmoil today as divorce rates increase. It’s become much more common to cut people out of our lives than to make it work and get past our differences. (Please don’t misinterpret this as me saying divorce isn’t justified). The other issue is that not only are people divorcing, but there are also many people who have very unhealthy or unhappy marriages and feel stuck in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling for them. 

If we really want to improve our overall healthy and longevity, it starts with the quality of relationships in our lives. It starts by either making more connection or improving the relationships that we have with family, friends, neighbors, in-law, and co-workers. It starts by making the effort to pick up your phone and call someone, starting couples therapy, or spending more quality time with each other.

2. Physical Activity

Of course, physical activity plays a large role in how healthy we are as we age. Having the right types of exercise in our daily lives that we actually enjoy doing is way more important than people realize. It’s not that we have to run X number of miles a day, do yoga, or do CrossFit. Just like the messages related to our overall health, we’re programmed to believe that we have to follow a specific program or reach a certain number of minutes of exercise each day.

In order to feel truly healthy, people have to slowly incorporate ways to stay active in their lives that work for them AND actually make them happy. If pilates isn’t your thing, don’t do it! Today, people may also be doing the wrong forms of exercise for their body. For example, many runners or weight lifters completely neglect stretching, while many yogis neglect cardiovascular exercise. In order to be healthy, you don’t have to follow specific rules and programs that promise to help you drop 30 pounds in 30 days, but instead slowly incorporate balanced forms of exercise that you actually LIKE doing. For example, getting a walk in each day, stretching before bed, doing a yoga class once a week, or doing InForm Fitness weekly.

3. Career 

Career is the next primary food that so many of us have neglected. We spend the majority of our live WORKING. We spend more time with our co-workers than our own family. We spend more time in an office chair than we do working on our hobbies. Our career feeds us way more than what we eat on our lunch breaks. I know when I was working a normal 9-5 job every other aspect of my life slowly deteriorated. I was so unhappy and exhausted that I didn’t have time to food prep and eat healthy, my relationships suffered drastically because of what little time and energy I had to give them, and I completely stopped exercising. If you’re miserable and stressed out for those 40+ hours a week, how can you possibly be healthy and flourish in your personal life? Those weeks take a toll on your overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Our careers really do feed our body and soul, and that’s why it’s important to either find work you love OR find ways to love the work you do. 

Side Note: As I write this at a coffee shop right now, I’m sitting next to a woman discussing with someone how miserable she is at her job. How it bores her and it doesn’t fill her up. “That kind of job didn’t develop me in a way that it should have after college,” she says. The girl with her is also sharing how unfulfilled she is at her job. Her exact words are, “I don’t feel fulfilled.”

Photo by Autumn Clark.

4. Spirituality 

This aspect of primary foods is also very important to our overall well-being, but at the same time it’s usually the first thing that people neglect. What I’ve been taught at IIN is that we need to have a spiritual practice. Having some kind of spiritual practice that fills up our soul and gives us hope and faith can make a drastic difference in our happiness. It doesn’t matter what your religious affiliation is or what the spiritual practice looks like. A spiritual practice could be going to church, praying, journaling, meditating, volunteer work, painting, or even hiking. It’s whatever works for you that makes you feel connected with a higher power and fills you up in that way. 

As Joshua Rosenthal shares in IIN, “we are spiritual beings in a material world.” The more congruity we have with who we are, how we represent ourselves, the career that we are working in, the more likely we are to achieve the outcome that we came here in this lifetime to achieve. That’s why when health is approached by looking at primary food and secondary food, the better off we are.

Secondary Foods

The secondary foods are the foods that we actually eat and that nourish our physical bodies. It’s not that these aren’t important, but they are secondary. Have you noticed that when you’re REALLY enjoying the work that you’re doing and you’re in a state of flow, time stops? The world around you melts away. You forget to go to the bathroom, drink water, or eat food? You’re enjoying yourself so much that someone has to remind you to eat dinner? When you’re having so much fun with friends you don’t want to stop and go get food. You’re being fulfilled and energized from those other aspects of your life that food becomes an afterthought. It’s why whenever I work on my writing or website, I forget to eat all day. Matt’s been trying to get me to eat lunch for months now!

However, there’s the opposite side of that. When people crave food it doesn’t happen by mistake. It means that something in your life is out of balance. It means that you’re not feeling fulfilled and you want food for comfort and to feel whole again. 

The other important aspect to understand about secondary foods is that each and every person has a completely unique body that has a unique set of needs. That’s why I get so infuriated when people get pushy about a specific diet or lifestyle they preach to others. Just because YOU personally eat a lot of ___(fill in the blank)___ or don’t eat ___(fill in the blank)___, doesn’t mean that other people have to. We all have a very unique bio-computer that maybe thrives when we eat fresh fruit and berries or closes our throat the moment we step into a room with blueberries. 

How does this relate to my philosophy?

I’ve always felt this way about health and nutrition. However, before starting at IIN, I didn’t have the words to express it. Lost Online is what I describe as a self-help, health and wellness blog, and I chose these categories because I believe the MIND and our MENTAL WELL-BEING override everything else when it comes to living a healthy life. That’s why I focus on the mind and what we can do to improve our lives in all areas and sprinkle in health and fitness through my posts. Because what matters more than how much chia seeds and kale you consume is how happy you are. 

How do we become healthy long term? 

You may be wondering, “What now? How do we become healthy?” Here’s how: 

1. Forget

Scratch the RULES that you have been force fed about health and wellness up to this point in your life. Understand the fact that we are fed more by our Primary Foods than what you put in your grocery cart. Understand that in order to achieve whole body wellness, you have to improve every area of your life – this might involve you being brave and taking leaps that terrify you short term, but would fulfill you in the long term. 

2. Identify 

Identify the areas of your life that need improvement. Write down each primary food group and secondary food and what aspects in each category you’re struggling with. For example, in relationships are you struggling to meet friends as an adult, do you have a strenuous relationship with someone, is there someone you don’t have a relationship with that you wish you did? In a way, you have to play your own therapist here, determine the areas of your life that aren’t filling you up in the way you need to flourish. 

3. Take action… but think small 

The biggest mistake that people make over and over again is that they want to change, but they try to do it drastically. They want to eat healthy, so they go vegan in one day. They want to lose weight so they cut their calories in half or exercise for two hours a day. They want to be more spiritual, so they buy 10 spirituality books on Amazon in one sitting. Do you see what I mean? We try to take giant leaps, but we don’t work that way. It’s too drastic of a change, so we’ll instantly revert back to how we used to be. If you want to change your life in any of these areas, make ONE change at a time. Setting drastic and unrealistic expectations of yourself is a sure way to fail. People learn and change their behaviors through slow and simple lifestyle changes. 

You might still be thinking, “WHAT DO I DO, HEATHER?!” 

Because we’re so used to people beating specifics into our head when it comes to wellness, hearing information that’s more broad might be difficult for you. We’re used to being told that we have to eat X amount of calories or do X number of reps. Here’s the thing: YOU know what you need to do. You know what changes you should be making in your life. I can’t make that decision for you. You know whether you need to go network with someone, meditate daily, call up a friend, cut out potato chips, start taking a supplement, see a therapist, quit the job, stop drinking a six pack of soda daily, put yourself out there, join a club, buy a program, go to church, etc. I guarantee you have some idea of a step that you know you need to be doing. If you realize that these areas in your life are still struggling, that you need more direction, then please reach out to me personally. 

Takeaway

My goal with this post is to help you understand that full-body health and wellness is about much more than what supplements you’re on and what you put on your plate. It’s also about the primary foods: relationships, career, spirituality, and physical activity. Only when you address and make improvements to each of these areas will you really come alive and be able to reach your potential. So scratch whatever diet you think you should be on right now. Dig deeper into all the aspects of your life and make small improvements. If you need help along the way, I’m always here to answer your questions. 

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments. Have you heard of Joshua Rosenthal’s idea of Primary Foods and Secondary Foods before? Do you believe that we are fed more by Primary Foods? Why yes or no? What areas have you found that you need to make adjustments to in order to feel happier and healthier? What steps will you make to improve?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer Product Review

Health & Wellness, Product Reviews

If you’re a follower of mine on Instagram then you’re probably not at all surprised by this new blog post and Sweet Sweat product review. I’ve been using the Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer and Workout Enhancer for several weeks, and have been posting some very satisfying (and sometimes gross) videos of me peeling off the Waist Trimmer after an intense workout. Each video looks the same, I stand in front of the mirror and peel off the velcro strap and open up the Waist Trimmer to reveal sweat pouring off of my stomach and hips.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Sweet Sweat in the past year or so. The company has become very well known for videos that have blown up the internet and nearly everyone’s Instagram feed. Influencers everywhere have posted stories and photos of them peeling off the product after a workout to show off their sweat, hard work, and sculpted abs. For this reason, thousands of eyes have been on the company and there’s been tons of speculation about whether or not the product “works” and helps you get a flatter stomach.

Sure it looks like it makes you nice and sweaty, but does it actually do anything? I was among the many people that stared at the videos on social media with interest, and a lot of confusion. I must have thought about the product for two years and how much I wanted to try it. Eventually, the day came when I finally did! I received Sweet Sweat for Christmas this year from my boyfriend Matt and just started using it in February.

So here is my honest review after using Sweat Sweet for over a month. I share how I use Sweet Sweat, clean it, how it works, and the pros and cons that I discovered. This post is not sponsored in any way, I’m not making any money, and these are all my personal opinions and experiences using this product. Here are my opinion and takeaways if you’re thinking about trying Sweet Sweat yourself!

How Sweet Sweat Works + My Disclaimer

Before I get started, I want all my readers to be aware of the fact that I do not believe a product such as this one can make you look like Jillian Michaels. I do not believe that getting in shape is as simple as a $45 online purchase. And this is why I, and many other people, have been a bit hesitant when Sweet Sweat showed up in social media feeds. I believe that working out is what gets you into shape, and unless you actually commit to your fitness journey you’re not going to see your body miraculously tone up.

What Sweet Sweat has posted on their website is that their products improve circulation, accelerate the body’s warm up, improve sweating, increase motivation, and prevent injury.

The company is not making any crazy statements… however, the average person scrolling through social media and watching dozens of people with six packs peeling off the waist trimmer might get confused. It may appear as if the company wants people to think that if you buy this product you will look like these fitness models and influencers. That somehow by a simple purchase and use of a Waist Trimmer will give you rock hard abs. However, the company doesn’t actually say that, and people who think this way may want to go back to high school and re-take health class.

People look like Greek gods NOT because they buy one product, but because they work out for an hour or more every day, count calories, and are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about health and fitness.

I will say that it is true that the warmer your muscles are the less likely you are to injure yourself or pull something. At this point, that is common knowledge. It’s the same idea people have when they wear sweatshirts to workout. Sweet Sweat definitely makes you warm, makes you sweat, prevents injury, and motivates you. And I would be willing to bet that it could improve circulation as well because of how warm I feel when I use it.

The Sweet Sweat company often shows thermal images on social media of people who use the product compared to those who didn’t. The people who use the two products together always have a very warm core revealed on thermal imaging. So yes, it does work in that sense.

However, a common myth is that a product like this will make you burn more fat. This is false. You could lose more weight because you’re making yourself warmer which will make you lose water weight, but it won’t make you burn extra calories or wake up looking like Channing Tatum in “Magic Mike.” If you want results like that you’re going to have to do some serious work through exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle changes. I just don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea about this product.

How to Use Sweet Sweat

Sweet Sweat works when the Waist Trimmer and the Workout Enhancer are used together. You apply an ample amount of the gel to your stomach and the areas you want to target. I apply it all over my stomach, lower abdomen, hips, and back. You can also apply it to problem areas like your triceps or inner thighs. Then you put on the Waist Trimmer over your stomach and make it pretty snug. I like mine to feel pretty tight on my body. I’ve seen that people also put on the Waist Trimmer over their arms or thighs if they really want to focus on those areas more than their stomach.

Side Note: You should not use Sweet Sweat it you have lotion or other gels or product on your body. This could clog your pores and prevent sweating.

Then, I go and workout. I always start with cardio which is either stair stepping or jogging and then go into weights. I use the product the entire time I’m at the gym and I don’t take it off until I’m completely done exercising. At the end of my workout, I undo the Velcro strap and slowly remove the Waist Trimmer. That’s when you see how much you’ve sweated during the workout.

PROS of Sweet Sweat

It’s highly satisfying to peel off

At the very end of your workout that’s when you get that satisfying moment of watching the Waist Trimmer come off while sweat drips from your stomach showing you what a f*cking badass you are and feeling like you’ve just been given a shiny gold star from the Fitness Gods. It’s a pretty great feeling. Sometimes I’ll take videos or boomerangs of it for all of you to see on my Instagram Stories! And that’s why it’s probably no surprise that I’m writing this post now. I may have become a bit obsessed with that final moment in the gym when I get finally see my hard work staring back at me in the mirror. If there’s one thing that I will say about this product above everything else is that it’s incredibly rewarding and inspires you to work out more.

Maybe I’m unique and just a very visual person when it comes to things like that, so someone else’s experience may be different than mine. I wrote another post, “My Apple Watch Turned Me Into a Workout Junkie,” about how the only time I’ve ever been inspired to workout regularly was when I got my Apple Watch and had those three little rings on my wrist that I had to close each day. Something about seeing the rings progress and feeling like I had a goal that I was working toward with a little reward at the end, made me actually exercise. Not occasionally, but every single day for 47 days straight! I live for that moment when I can see my hard work, and Sweet Sweat does that for me too.

I like that reward at the end of the workout. I like to see my rings close and swirl, and I like to see the sweat drip off me at the end of the workout. I feel slightly stupid that I need these rewards to exercise! But whatever, at least I exercise. Most Americans don’t.

I have a feeling that other people have this exact same mentality that I do, otherwise I wouldn’t see so many videos on social media of people closing their rings and taking off Sweet Sweat Waist Trainers. It’s a satisfying and rewarding feeling, and it makes you feel like you’re working towards a goal each day, rather than the goal of a body that you might not see until you’ve put in weeks, months, or even years of hard work. It’s a reminder that lets you know you did well today and you’re one day closer to accomplishing those larger health and fitness goals.

It helps with bloating and water retention for a flatter stomach

Now, I know I’ve told you that a product like this will not make you suddenly look ripped or have an entirely different stomach–and that is true. However, after using this product for a while, I can say confidently that it made me look a bit slimmer. Not because the product will make you burn off more fat and calories, but because it makes your core sweat so much that I’ve noticed that I’m having less bloating and water retention. So yes, I do look like I have a flatter stomach!

I’m someone that gets a lot of bloating and sometimes looks like I have a little “pouch” on my belly. Since using Sweet Sweat regularly, I notice that my stomach always looks flatter now than it did before AND it also looks flatter immediately after I use it. So if you’re one of those people who keeps wondering if Sweet Sweat “works”–meaning will it make you look skinnier–I would (hesitantly) say yes. If you have a problem with bloating as I do, I think you’ll also be able to notice that you look slimmer, especially if you use it regularly. Just so we’re on the same page, it won’t make you look Alexis Ren skinny. It will make you look slightly slimmer. You’ll be able to feel more confident in that tight dress if you know what I mean. (And please someone give Alexis a burger… or 100 burgers. That girl needs it!).

Your core feels warmer during exercise

I also like that when I use Sweet Sweat, my core feels warmer during exercise. As I mentioned before, this does prevent injury and makes you sweat, but I also just like the way it feels while I’m working out. My core feels much warmer even if I’m not focusing on that area and doing a plank or sit up. I notice that the warmer I am the more my heartbeat increases, my body is sweating, and I feel like I’m having an intense workout. In the middle of exercising and even after my exercise I feel like I was more productive and had a more challenging workout than I do if I wasn’t wearing it that day.

It creates support and better posture during exercise

The other big plus that I like about the Waist Trimmer is that my posture is just naturally better when I have it on. I don’t get as sloppy or loose no matter what exercise I’m doing. Nice posture is not only good for our health, but it also looks better and helps me maintain better form. I don’t have to work hard to have correct form when there’s something wrapped around me keeping my core and my spine straight. It feels similar to people who use a weightlifting belt for support so that they maintain good posture and are less likely to injure themselves.

I also will say that waist trainers, in general, are known to weaken your core because your core does not have to work as hard and relies on the trainer. So for this reason, I wouldn’t use an actual waist trainer that the Kardashians have been pushing. Sweet Sweat is meant to be used for exercising to help you stay warm and sweat more, it’s not designed to create that hourglass shape. So that’s a good thing! I would never recommend using a waist trainer that could squish organs and break bones. If you’re at all worried about Sweet Sweat, I would only use Sweet Sweat when exercising, and I would also make sure to not neglect the core! You’ll still have to do your planks!

CONS of Using Sweet Sweat

SO MUCH SWEAT

One thing that I don’t particularly like is that this product really does make you sweat a lot more than you’re used to. When I use Sweet Sweat the perspiration actually drips out from under the Waist Trimmer and makes my pants wet. Not damp, wet. It’s pretty nasty. I think it could be because I’m someone who just naturally sweats a lot anyway, so using a product that’s designed to make you sweat gets pretty gross for me. I already drip sweat when I workout, but now when I use Sweet Sweat, it’s a crazy amount! Like, I need to use a towel and wipe sweat off me every minute kind of sweat.

It also doesn’t just make me sweat in the areas where I put it on. I’ve noticed that when I use Sweet Sweat I sweat more over my entire body. So if you’re someone that hardly sweats you’ll probably really like this product, but if you’re like me and you sweat like an animal, it might not be your cup of tea. So there are some days when I decide to not wear it because I’m just not in the mood to feel that sweaty, that gross, and that warm. Some days I just want to take it easy. Other days I love that part about Sweet Sweat, and how intense and sweaty my workouts are because it makes me feel like I’m working harder.

I can’t use Sweet Sweat with light colored clothing

This is because of how much I sweat when I use the product. I have to be conscious of not wearing light-colored clothing like light pink, grey, or blue. I have to wear it with dark or neon colors or else the sweat is very obvious. It wouldn’t really bother me if I wore it in a home gym, but when I exercise in a gym with other people or in a workout class, it would just be embarrassing or awkward to have wet clothing or have to wipe off sweat that much. Again this could be a problem that is unique to me and my body, but if you know you’re someone who sweats a lot like me, you probably will want to be conscious of that while wearing it in a public gym or with light-colored clothes. Unless you’re a badass that just doesn’t care what other people think at all. Keep doing you, make sure to comment on your secret!

Cleaning the product takes a minute

When I first started using the Waist Trimmer, Sweet Sweat put in the directions to wipe off the Waist Trimmer with a towel after use. However, once you actually get the product and notice the material and all of the holes in the product where sweat can hide, you’ll realize that cleaning the product like that would not only take forever but is also NOT sanitary. My Waist Trimmer now has a permanent home hanging in the shower.

After each workout I hop in the shower and rinse it off and then I use my body soap or body wash to soap up the product and scrub it before I rinse it off and hang it to dry. That gets the sweat out of all the little areas, cleans it well so it’s not smelly and growing bacteria, and then it helps it dry quickly. You can’t just wipe the product off and throw it on your closet floor and pick it up the next day. If you do that, it’ll smell, collect germs, and still be dripping in sweat the next day as if you just finished your workout. It really only takes me a minute to clean and it’s not a big deal to me, but I could see how it would annoy people have to do an extra step after they get back from the gym.

Warning: Contains Fragrance!

The full list of ingredients in the Sweet Sweat Workout Enhancer is white snow petrolatum, Brazilian carnauba wax, acai pulp oil, organic coconut oil, pomegranate seed oil, organic jojoba oil, squalene oil (olive), aloe vera extract, d-Alpha tocopherol (vitamin E), fragrance.

Ugghhhhh yes, it contains fragrance! I actually got Sweet Sweat as a Christmas present and I picked it out in early November last year. That was before I was fragrance-free. And we all know that fragrance just means hidden, irregulated chemicals that cause cancer. If you’re interested in learning more about the fragrance issue, you can read my blog post, “The Stinky Scary Secret Behind Consumer Products,” or “How I Limited my Exposure to Chemicals and Found Safe Alternatives to Consumer Products.” In the last few months I’ve gotten rid of 95% of my body products and completely changed every body product that I bring into my home, but sadly this product contains fragrance! I was super disappointed to see the word fragrance after ingredients that say “organic.” It’s just another fine example of greenwashing.

However, I decided to try Sweet Sweat anyways because I was so curious about the product and I also didn’t want my boyfriend to be upset that I never used his present (he gets very worked up about gifts lol). What I would like to do is start using a different oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil since it’s already listened as an ingredient and that way I don’t have to worry about what I’m putting on my body. I’ll probably be sharing updates on oils that I’m using on Instagram Stories as I’m searching for a safer alternative. More info to come later! If you have any suggestions for an oil that would work well with this product let me know in the comments!

Sweet Sweat Takeaway

So aside from the fragrance which I consider to be a bigger issue, I think that if you switch out the Workout Enhancer for an organic oil, it’s definitely worth the purchase. Sweet Sweat is not perfect. Yes there are pros and there are cons, but I think it’s definitely worth a try. At the very least Sweet Sweat is motivating and extremely satisfying while taking it off after exercise. I love the feeling of peeling it off after a workout, I have noticed my stomach looks flatter, it warms me up, and creates a more intense workout. Plus, you kind of feel like a badass walking around the gym with a Waist Trimmer on. I guess I would say that it makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

I would recommend this product if you’re interested in trying it. From what I’ve seen on social media, it seems like once people start using Sweet Sweat they become obsessed with it and use it every time they exercise. It’s worth a try and it’s only about $45 to buy the Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer and Workout Enhancer, and the company often puts some items on sale.

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online, and let me know what you think in the comments! Have you used Sweet Sweat before? What were your thoughts on the product? Did you find it extra motivating to workout? Did you notice any of these pros and cons or discover any others that I hadn’t mentioned?

If you liked this post make sure you scroll to the bottom, hit that little “+”, and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email.” The next post will be sent right to you!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My Microblading and Permanent Makeup Experience: What They Don’t Tell You About Getting Your Face Tattooed

Beauty

Why I Got My Face Tattooed

I was 13 or 14 years old when I first learned of permanent makeup, tattooing your face to make it appear like you have eyeliner on and eyebrows filled in all the time. That very moment when I learned of it, I knew that I would get it done “someday.” Here’s why…

Self-confidence: For as long as I could remember I was self-conscious about the way I looked without makeup on. For several years as a teenager, I would even re-apply it at night time and wear it to bed. I would make sure to put it on first thing on a Saturday morning so even my own mother wouldn’t see me without makeup. I was completely ashamed of how I looked and was completely sucked into the world of beauty magazines and learning all the secrets to looking like my favorite celebrities. Poor, little 14-year-old Heather had no idea that celebrities not only have millions of dollars, but also have plastic surgery, lip injections, personal trainers, hair extensions, fake nails, spray tans, and beauty treatments to look like that!

I remember being extremely uncomfortable and unhappy whenever I would wake up from a sleepover and my friends would see me without a drop of foundation or mascara on. If I went to the beach I would feel uncomfortable and try to avoid eye contact with people. If I woke up on a family vacation I would have to put a full face on or I felt like my family would secretly judge how I looked.

I had a very unhealthy body image as a teenage girl and a very, very long and painful journey toward self-love and self-acceptance that I’m still working on to this day. But that’s what initially drew me to permanent makeup. From the moment I first learned of it in my early teens, I knew that I had to get it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in my own body until I had it. I knew that it would bring me some peace of mind and help me relax about how I looked without having to wear a full face of makeup each day.

A+ Brows: Right smack dab in the middle of high school, that’s suddenly when the brows became a big freaking deal. My Twitter account was blowing up with girls posting close-up photos of their brows and selfies with brows that would make you wonder, “How the f*ck did she do that?” The brows became sexier than boobs! All the so-called “popular” girls had the most gorgeous brows and would be complimented left and right about how their brows were “on fleek.” (Remember when that was a thing?)

Sadly, I didn’t have much to work with. My brows just didn’t have a nice shape to them. I’ve also never been someone that was into the makeup arts, I was way more into skincare. So I never learned how to get those brows that everyone wouldn’t shut up about.

Convenience: The last reason why I really wanted permanent makeup is for the convenience and ease of getting ready. I knew that I would save me so much time in the morning because I had to shape and fill in my eyebrows and then spend time fixing them and trying to get them to match and look identical. Some days they would look good and others not so much, but either way, they took a whole lot of time. I wanted to finally get ready and use those 10 minutes on my brows doing something else, like oh I don’t know, SLEEPING! I wanted to cut that part of my morning down significantly because I put makeup on because I have to, not because I love doing it.

Preparing for Permanent Makeup

I really wanted permanent makeup right from the second I heard about it, and I spent a decade looking at pictures of it in my free time, talking to women who had it done, reading FAQ’s about it, scoping out artists, looking at portfolios, and deciding what I wanted. I didn’t know when I was going to get it done, but I knew that I wanted to be prepared for the day I was old enough and finally had the money.

The day finally came in October 2017 when I made the decision to get permanent makeup and microblading. I then got it touched up in January 2018, so I’ve had it now for just over a year. Because it’s been a year, I’ve been asked about my experience with permanent makeup from women who are also interested in getting it done. I always answer their questions with honesty and try to be as helpful as I can, but I also don’t want to scare them away from getting it done. Because if I’m being completely honest here, getting your face tattooed is no walk in the park, and there are some things I really wish I would have known when I walked into that studio to get inked. Before you consider going in and getting your face done up, especially if you’re getting two makeup treatments done at once, it’s much more like getting outpatient surgery than is it spending a day in the spa.

Here’s my entire permanent makeup experience from start to finish. I share the dirty details that you won’t read in any other blog from the cost, the actual tattooing, the healing and more. I’ve never heard a completely open and honest account from anyone else who has had permanent makeup, and I really believe this a procedure women should be more transparent about with each other.

The Cost

I actually saved money several different times to get permanent makeup while I was in college. After doing my research into the prices from different artists, I knew that I would have to pay about $1,000 or more to have permanent eyeliner and microblading done from someone who was very good at it. Microblading and eyeliner are both usually several hundred dollars, but many professionals charge up to $500 or more for each procedure. However, because of the boom in permanent makeup popularity and the number of people getting certified to do it (also the ease of getting certified today… be careful who you let tattoo you), I’ve seen the price slowly coming down from $1,000-$1,500 for both eyeliner and microblading when I was in high school, to now, just a few hundred dollars.

Eventually, when I finally had the money, the time, and was mentally prepared to get inked, I found the artists of Professionals in Permanent Makeup through Groupon. I had looked at other places, but I knew that I trusted the Professionals in Permanent Makeup more than anyone else I had come across, even though I found it through a Groupon deal. They had tons of five-star reviews, a very hefty portfolio of flawless microblading and eyeliner, and they were just 30 minutes from my house!

Also, because I was 1) getting Groupon pricing 2) getting two permanent makeup procedures done and 3) paying the entire amount up front, the cost was significantly cheaper than I thought it would be! So oftentimes, when girls ask me how much it costs to get it done, I have a difficult time answering that question because I searched for a great deal. At the end of the day I had to pay about $500 to get microblading and eyeliner done, and then about $200 for the touchups. I remember being so happy that I didn’t end up paying $1500 by the end of it! Again, the price is lowering because it’s more popular, but I believe you get what you pay for. I wouldn’t trust someone to tattoo my face for $250. To me, higher prices mean they have more experience.

The Consultation

What I remember most of all during the consultation was how worried I was that they wouldn’t understand the look that I was going for. I’ve gone into hair salons before and came out with a completely different color than I asked for. What if that happened with permanent makeup? I was so nervous that somehow they wouldn’t understand that I wanted definition and shape to my brows, but that I also wanted to look natural. I didn’t want to walk out with crazy eyebrows that didn’t match my face. What made it extra nerve wracking for me was that I noticed that Stella, the woman who was actually going to be tattooing me, not only couldn’t speak English but was bouncing around the room the whole time setting up for her appointment that day. Kathy, from the Professionals in Permanent Make-up, was the one who sat with me the whole time and would translate some parts or ask Stella some questions. Then Stella would occasionally come over and look at my face. Kathy told me about the process and the healing and asked me lots of questions about how I preferred to wear my makeup.

I also remember the consultation being quick and efficient. I wasn’t there for more than 20 minutes or so. And I remember that they were very interested in how I wear my makeup every day and I was told to wear my makeup to the consultation so they could see what my everyday look is like.

The Pre-Permanent Makeup Mental Breakdowns

Leading up to the appointment, I was a hot mess. I wanted my makeup done my whole life, but as soon as the appointment was booked I started panicking and thinking of every possible thing that could go wrong. My mind went something like this for the days leading up to the appointment, “What if they accidentally tattoo big black lines on my face? What if the eyebrows are crooked? What if they mess up the shape? What if it’s obvious I got them done? What if I’m making a big mistake? What if I chose the wrong person? Should I have done more research?”

For that reason, I also went to the Facebook page for the Professional in Permanent Makeup and looked through their before and after photos about 15-20 times a day. I would always look at their page and be reminded of how beautiful their work is and calm down, then I would start to panic again, and frantically open up the page.

I was such a nervous wreck that I couldn’t eat and was in a constant state of stress from anticipation. My boyfriend, Matt, can tell you that I was completely panicking and was not at all pleasant to be around then. He had to constantly reassure me that everything was going to be ok.

My Experience & What They Don’t Tell You About Permanent Makeup

When the day finally arrived for my appointment, I ended up getting my car towed right before I was about to leave and wasn’t able to make my appointment. I called and had to reschedule and out of Stella and Kathy’s generosity I didn’t have to pay a fee for not making the appointment which they are normally very strict about. Then I had to go through the anticipation all over again! Eventually, the day arrived, I didn’t get my car towed, and it was time to finally get my face tattooed after over 10 years of wanting it done. And let me just say it was the longest five hours of my life!!

My appointment started with Kathy and Stella taking many measurements of my face, drawing on my face to create my shape, and constantly stepping away to make sure the outlines were symmetrical. I remember being so lost because they were doing so many things to prep my face and prepare for the microblading. Stella also did threading on my brows to shape them and get rid of the little hairs that were hanging around. I had watched videos of women getting microblading done before, but I never actually saw the process of creating the shape ahead of time.

Stella and Kathy also kept handing me a mirror to look at the shape and see if it was what I wanted. I remembering being so overwhelmed because there were so many lines and markings on my face that I couldn’t even visualize what the final product was going to look like. I kept thinking, “There’s too much going on! The brows are too big! I’m gonna look like I have Nike Swooshes on my face!” I’m not at all good visualizing a final project, so this part was so very difficult for me. I finally had to give them the ok, and trust their judgment.

Then, the actual tattooing started. This is the stuff, no one tells you ahead of time: IT HURTS. Stella was numbing me as she was tattooing me, but for the first 20-30 minutes, I was in pain. I felt every little cut on my face as I laid there questioning every decision I had made in my life. I often get asked by other women whether it’s painful. I always tell them the truth. Someone is making little cuts all over your brows, so yes it hurts. There’s nothing pleasant about it. The only good thing is that after a while you start to not feel it and the pain goes away. You slowly get used to the sensation and the numbing starts to kick in.

Unfortunately, I was so nervous about getting it done and laying on that table for 5 hours getting my face tattooed, that the entire time I had adrenaline pumping through my body. I was on high alert. My heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest, I felt sick, I was worried, and I was hyper-aware of everything that was happening around me. I often hear girls, who went through the microblading or eyeliner procedure, say that it wasn’t that bad and they fell asleep. For me, I was in a state of stress from the moment the tattooing began. I’m a worrier so all I could think about was every possible thing that could go wrong. The thing that I was most worried about during the microblading was her hand slipping causing a giant scar or line of ink across my face forever.

After the pain of being cut finally subsided, it was still incredibly uncomfortable. What had never occurred to me was that there would be a woman pressing and drawing on my face for 5 hours straight! Throughout the whole process, I could not get used to how heavy and uncomfortable it was to feel her hand and arm pushing against my face and resting her weight there. On top of that, she had to wipe my face and eyes many, many, many times. By the time I left my face was so swollen and red that I didn’t even look like myself.

I also remember more than anything that throughout the process of tattooing, I had to sneeze and blow my nose constantly. I had this intense tickle in my nose that didn’t go away for those 5 hours, and it got a million times worse once it was time to do the eyeliner. I had to keep stopping to ask for tissue and blow my nose, and I could tell Stella was getting annoyed by it.

I eventually decided to keep the tissue box in my hand the whole time and had to hold the tissue against my nose during some parts of the tattooing to keep the tickle at bay. The constant tickle sensation and the feeling of having to sneeze was something I didn’t expect at all. I had never heard of other women having that reaction and it made the fears so much worse because I kept thinking, “What if I sneeze, causing her hand to slip and I end up with a scar or a line of ink across my forehead?”

I had made it through the microblading ok, but once I had gotten to the eyeliner, that’s when my nerves shot even farther through the roof. I don’t think I’ve ever been so worried before in my life. It began with Stella giving me three numbing shots in each eye, which was the worst part of the entire experience. I could feel the pain and pinching sensation of the needle followed by the liquid from the shot popping all over my eyeball. The numbing shots were so excruciating. I had never had pain that strongly in my eye before. It’s such a delicate area filled with so many nerve endings, I don’t know why I had never heard of women saying they were in pain from getting it done.

The actual eyeliner tattoo was far worse than microblading. I could see the outline of the needle through eyelids since there was a fluorescent light above my face. I would feel my eyelid and eyeball vibrating, and I could feel the little punching of the tattoo gun. In some parts, Stella was trying to get close to my lash line and my eye would actually open slightly. I tried so hard to hold my eyes still and closed the entire time but Stella needed my eyelids to lay flat for the tattooing. So there were moments when my eyelid would creep open.

That moment of my eyelid opening and seeing the needle through the light over my face is an image I will have permanently ingrained in my mind. I’ve never been so terrified before. My biggest fear for those few hours was that all it would take is one slip of her hand and I would be blind forever.

Also, keep in mind that throughout my entire experience, my makeup artist and I couldn’t talk to each other. I would always have to talk to Kathy who would relay something to Stella. I think what made it all so much scarier was not only getting a face tattoo, but getting a face tattoo while having a language barrier! Five hours of getting my face tattooed by someone and we never even said a word to each other. I think that also made it feel so much longer because she couldn’t check in with me and tell me little updates about how it was coming. I was in the dark the entire time wondering when the hell it was going to be over.

Immediately After Getting Inked

Immediately after the appointment, I was ROUGH. My face was swollen, my skin was red, and my eyebrows and eyeliner looked like someone had drawn over them with a sharpie. You know how when you get a fresh tattoo, the ink is really dark and prominent? Ok, imagine that on your face. It was a scary sight to see. I also was incredibly sensitive to light and felt like I wanted to lock myself in a dark room and never come out.

Walking out into the light of day was surreal. It had felt like I had just been punched in the face repeatedly. My eyes couldn’t really focus on anything and all they wanted to do was rest. My body was still so on edge and filled with adrenaline that I was shaking. I felt like the way I would imagine feeling after getting tased, only that sensation lasted for a whole day.

The worst part about afterward though, was that I had to run several errands in Jax and then drive myself an hour and a half to Matt’s house in downtown St. Augustine, DURING rush hour. I can barely survive Jacksonville rush hour traffic even when I’m feeling like myself, let alone after getting my face tattooed. If you ever decide to get it done, especially eyeliner, for the love of life have someone else drive you! Kathy and Stella told me that many women would drive down to see them from Atlanta and then drive themselves back home after getting it done, and I have no idea how that would be possible. My eyes were so swollen, tired, unable to focus, and sensitive to light that I almost got into car accidents the entire drive home. Driving yourself home after permanent makeup is about as smart as driving yourself home after taking seven shots of tequila.

The Healing Process

Here’s another fun fact about my permanent makeup experience… I never told my family that I was getting it done and I had to keep it a secret even though I still lived with them at the time. Long story short, there’s a woman in my family who has permanent makeup that everyone hates. She married in the family for money, and her life revolves around getting plastic surgery, doing her makeup, shopping for designer bags, and gossiping about anyone who is below her socio-economic class. So now, my family associates permanent makeup with her, and they’re 100% against it.

So when I was going to get it, I knew that if they found out, it would cause screaming matches and probably lead to them taking away my car or something to make a point about their disapproval. I had to stay at Matt’s house for almost an entire week hiding away and making up reasons as to why I wasn’t coming home.

I hung around his house with a super puffy face, keeping my head elevated, and drinking shocking amounts of water trying to get my face to go back to normal. Any time I would eat something with even a little bit of salt in it, my face would puff up again like blowfish and I was back to square one. During this time Matt also had to keep talking me off the ledge every time I looked in the mirror. Kathy has tried to tell me about how it would look after, but I didn’t know my eyebrows and eyeliner would be that cartoonish.

Just like when you get a regular tattoo, the ink continues to fall out in the following days. Your skin doesn’t hold all of it, so it looked like my eyebrows were nothing but large, dark brown Nike Swooshes on my face until the ink slowly started to come away. I also wasn’t able to get them wet or wash my face for a week or two.

Throughout the healing, the ink continued to fall out as scabs formed on my face. I remember how itchy my eyebrows were more than anything, but I wasn’t able to scratch them or it could have messed it up and peeled off the ink. As they were healing, the skin on my brows flaked off much like dandruff and I kept my eyebrow brush around to lightly remove the dead skin cells.

The healing was far more unpleasant for the eyeliner than it was for the microblading. When the eyeliner was healing it had a big scab all over the area that was tattooed. It stuck far out from my eyelid and was a nasty gray color from all the ink. It also had to fall off on its own even though all I wanted to do was rip it off and not have it on my face. That was the worst of the healing process because it took close to two weeks to fall off. What actually happened was that half the scab was still attached to my face and half of it was stuck in my eyelashes. I couldn’t even remove that part because it would pull at the rest of the scab. So there I was for a full 10 days with half of the scab stuck in the center of my lashes and the other half attached. Then when the scab fell off, the majority of my eyelashes fell out with it. From the first day I had gotten it done until I was completely healed, I wore sunglasses 24/7.

The only thing that I had to do as far as cleaning and maintenance was using this little product made out of a mixture of ingredients including beeswax and vitamin E to clean and moisturize it. I absolutely hated that part because the product was so hard and sticky that it actually hurt to put it on. It didn’t feel like I was being moisturized and helping it to heal at all. I would have much rather used Aquaphor, but I don’t think they would have wanted me to because it would have been wetter.

The Touchup

Once I finally healed and the scabs were completely gone, I was pretty happy with the makeup so far, but it wasn’t completely perfect yet. The coloring looked great, but the eyebrows had some flaws and didn’t completely match. That’s why they always want you to come in for a touch up after several weeks. My eyebrows had some minor things that had to be corrected where the skin didn’t hold ink in some areas, and one of the eyebrows was slightly thinner than the other. I also ended up getting a white head on one spot as I was healing so no ink stayed there causing a small spot that didn’t hold any ink. I counted down the days until my touch up and still kept panicking about how it would look in the end (because that’s just what I do).

When the day came for me to get the touch up, it wasn’t nearly as bad as getting it done the first time. It didn’t take as long getting the makeup done because it was pretty close to perfect. It also wasn’t as traumatic and nerve-racking the second time around and the healing was much more pleasant. It still was not necessarily enjoyable but at least I knew what to expect and I wasn’t in there for more than 5 hours. The worst of it was finally over. For that reason, I’ll probably regularly go back for touch ups so that whenever I do get it done, it’s quick and painless.

The Takeaway

Moving forward, Kathy recommends getting a touch up every 2-3 years, but if you like your makeup looking super fresh and close to perfect, they recommend every year and a half. I’ll be going back for my microblading touch up in the next 2-3 months, but I don’t know if I’ll ever do the eyeliner touched up. I like having it done and I like how defined my eyes are without make-up on but I don’t know if the pain and procedure is worth it to me.

I’m sharing my full experience with all this detail with you today not to scare you, create clickbait, or convince you to not get permanent makeup done. I’m sharing this with you today because I heard so many women talk about it as if it wasn’t a big deal and getting it done wasn’t uncomfortable at all. The women that I read reviews from and talked to about it made permanent makeup sound like it was as simple and painless as getting a pedicure. It makes me so mad that I never heard about all of this before I went in and got inked.

My theory is that many women don’t want to share what they went through in order to look prettier without makeup. I think women have a fear of being judged about what we put ourselves through for our vanity. We live in this weird culture where women are expected to look like a Kardashian but are then judged for trying too hard and getting invasive procedures done all for the sake of looking younger, prettier, and more feminine. Yet there’s so much pressure to look good, can you blame women for trying?

So today, I wanted to share with you what they don’t tell you about getting your face tattooed – all those uncomfortable little details of the process that make you lay on a spa table for 5 hours with a needle in your face questioning every life decision you’ve made. But hell, it makes for an entertaining story and I always get a ton of laughs from it when I tell people all about it.

Believe me, I’m happy I got permanent makeup. I’m SO happy I got it. I love the way that it looks and I get compliments about my makeup all the time and about how well done it is. It not only makes my routine easier but it has made me so much more confident. I just didn’t like getting it done, and now I make sure that every woman who tells me about how they want microblading or eyeliner done knows what they’re getting into ahead of time.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Remember to keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post with all of your Frequently Asked Questions about permanent make-up. I answer one question at a time from readers and followers who are curious about the procedure.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Do you have permanent makeup? Do you want to get it done? Why did you decide to get it? If you did get it done, what was your experience like? Was it easier for you or about the same? And I’m curious, what exactly did you get done? Did you drive yourself home afterward?! Did you have any crazy tickling sensation like me?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

CBD, Anxiety, & Me: Thoughts After 3 Months on a CBD Tincture

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle

What I used to think about CBD

I’m probably one of the last people to hop on the CBD bandwagon – if not THE last one. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen CBD–cannabidiol, a compound derived from cannabis plants–become so popular for a variety of different reasons. I heard everything from it cures anxiety, relieves pain and helps you sleep. Then there were bigger claims like it fights cancer, prevents seizures, and lowers risk of diabetes. But I didn’t buy any of it. I knew so many people who were completely head-over-heels in love with CBD and raved about it all the time. However, most of them were also very well-known for… puffing the magic dragon… I’m not sure how I’m supposed to word this in a blog. Anyways, they smoke a lot of weed. You know the type: gets super defensive about weed, munching on something all the time, scatterbrained, listens to The Grateful Dead on repeat, burns incense, wears drug rugs, has at least one Bob Marley poster hanging up in their room. You get the idea.

So I didn’t buy it because I’m not a smoker, and I was never enamored with the stoner culture. I’m not going to be convinced about how magical CBD is from someone who can’t go a few hours without smoking weed. I don’t really trust them to educate me because I always wondered, is this new health supplement really as great as they say? Or has everything marijuana just become a major part of their self-identity? So I debated it many times over the last few years, and I always approached the CBD conversations with skepticism (and if I’m being honest here, a lot of judgment).

Then, I started to see a shift. Instead of just smokers using CBD, it started to become popular among many different types of people. Athletes used it, professionals used it, children used it, mothers used it, wellness advocates used it – and CBD started to become seen as a health supplement rather than a conversation in a college dorm room. Fast forward to the last few months and my boyfriend and I are both working for health and fitness companies that invite other companies to sell CBD Oil to athletes at events and competitions.

Today, I regularly meet people who use CBD for an array of reasons. People who are active professionals with 9-5 jobs. I’ve learned of so many success stories particularly with anxiety, so I finally decided that I would give it a try. I’ve now been on CBD for three months and feel much better, but also incredibly guilty for never giving this natural medicine a try. I was quick to judge these products because of the stoner culture that used to surround them and quick to get annoyed when someone would rave to me about why I should be using it. Especially because it seemed too simple. How could taking a few drops of CBD oil be enough to relieve anxiety? Wouldn’t I need to meditate every day, take prescriptions, and see a therapist if I wanted that to happen? No.

So what is CBD?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about this. There are so many people and online influencers out there who pretend that they’re CBD experts but they’re not. So I started looking into it for more information. From what I’ve come across, the most informative and easy to understand content was a video by health and nutrition expert, Thomas DeLauer. He explained exactly how CBD affects the receptors in the brain to make us feel good, relax us, help those suffering from cancer, and more. It really helped me comprehend why and how it works so I could finally understand all those big claims that are made and the science behind it. If you’d like to see if yourself, check it out here.

So you may or may not already know this, but for the sake of educating someone who may not, CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis (there’s no THC). Yes, we all know this. Moving on.

According to DeLauer, there are two different CBD receptors in the body and brain, CBD 1 and CBD 2. CBD 1 is found mostly in the brain and affects mood, emotion, mood, pain, etc. CBD 2 is found mostly in the body and affects things like inflammation and the immune system. THC is what activates both receptors, but CBD oil doesn’t. Instead, CBD influences the body to use more of its naturally occurring endocannabinoids, enhancing how the receptors utilize them. It’s the utilization and activation of vanilloid, serotonin, and adenosine receptors that give people the result they’re looking for from CBD.

These receptors play a role because CBD increases the activity of the receptors which trigger secondary responses in the body. For one thing, it activates a secondary response of excretory catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and epinephrine), which is what gives you a heightened sense of awareness while still feeling calm. Secondly, CBD also activates dopamine and causes the body to naturally and effectively utilize that particular neurotransmitter, which makes us feel better. Thirdly, CBD activates glutamate which (in the right amounts) can trigger energy in the right places. Finally, the serotonin receptors: CBD oil activates 5-HT1A which allows the body to create more serotonin and use it more efficiently. All of these things give us that lovely sensation that CBD companies spend tons of money marketing to us: you’ll feel calm, yet awake. So that’s the long-winded version of what CBD is, as far as how it helps someone struggling with anxiety, like myself. Thank you, Thomas DeLeaur for explaining all of that in a way that makes sense for someone like me who just barely passed science class in school.

Why I tried CBD

I heard several stories from friends who suffered from terrible anxiety and were able to relax and function normally after taking CBD. That they no longer suffered from anxiety attacks, or have moments when their heart races uncontrollably, or feel overwhelmed even when nothing stressful is happening. On top of that, my boyfriend and I also work at well-known health and fitness companies, and we’re constantly surrounded by people who are in incredible shape and participate in competitions on the weekends–and many of them take CBD. So after hearing about CBD for years, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. The worst that could happen was I wouldn’t like it, and move on with my life. When I started using CBD, I started with the brand, Elixinol. Elixinol is a high-quality, naturally processed CBD brand with 100% Organic Industrial Hemp from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. I use it in the morning before work and at night before I fall asleep. It comes in a one-ounce bottle and glass dropper with measurements on it for a .5 milliliter (ml) or 1 ml dose. I fill it up, usually to about .75 ml and I put the CBD underneath my tongue for about a minute to allow it to absorb into my bloodstream and then I swallow.

Side Note: I got this one from my boyfriend because he bought it for himself and realized that there was coconut oil in it which he’s allergic to. So if you’re allergic to coconut oil too, you really have to read CBD labels because tons of brands use coconut oil as a carrier oil.

After using Elixinol for over a month, I then tried out Charlotte’s Web CBD after hearing testimonials from so many people that swear by Charlotte’s Web and found the most success with that brand. If you’ve never heard of the story behind Charlotte’s Web, I highly suggest looking into it. The company was started because of a little girl name Charlotte Fiji who suffered from Dravet Syndrome — a very rare form of epilepsy. Her story is one that is completely heartbreaking and has shown people all of over the world how healing CBD can be. If you want to read the full story check it out here.

After using Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web both for a month and a half each, I can finally say that I am a firm believer in using CBD.

My thoughts after 3 months on CBD

Less Anxiety – Within the first day of being on CBD, I immediately felt better. I noticed that my mental state had become much more peaceful than it was before. The way that I could describe it is like taking an actual chill pill. Normally throughout the day, I have negative emotions, as we all do. I get anxious, angry, and sad, and it regularly ruins my day and makes me feel crappy both mentally and physically. If you’ve had anxiety then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You know that feeling when you start to have anxiety? It’s not just a mental feeling, but you feel it physically too. Your heart races, you sweat, you feel wired, you don’t feel like you’re in control of your body or mind, and your whole body feels agitated and uncomfortable. When I take CBD, I still feel my regular emotions throughout the day, like sadness or anger, but when I do it’s not nearly as heavy as it normally is. Those feelings don’t spread throughout my whole body and make me feel like I can’t breathe or my heart will come out of my chest. Instead, I feel an emotion, but without all of those physical reactions that usually amplify the feelings of anxiety and make it so much worse.

The first time that I really noticed this was when I was stuck in traffic on the highway one day and someone cut me off. Normally this would have made me feel anxious throughout my whole body. I would have felt the adrenaline coursing through me, and I wouldn’t calm down until I reached my destination and got out of the car. But now, I feel slightly anxious in my mind without all of the adrenaline and nerves. Instead, whenever I experienced an emotion like this, I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m feeling a little stressed out right now. That’s fine, it’ll pass.” Or “Looks like there’s some anxiety showing up again.”

I was so surprised by how calm and rational I felt. I started to identify unpleasant emotions, and then let them go without feeding into them. This has actually been something that I’ve been trying to train my mind to do in meditation, but I haven’t been able to do it alone. But now, on CBD, I can. I watch the negative thought show up and pass by just like seeing someone pass by me on the sidewalk. Not that I’m disconnected from my emotions or have become emotionless, but rather they don’t overwhelm me and affect me physically in the way that they used to.

I also want to add that even though CBD calmed me down, the effects are not at all like a prescription drug that people use to treat anxiety. When someone takes a pill meant for anxiety, it immediately hits them and they have a noticeable reaction. They go from having a panic attack to feeling very happy, relaxed, and basically like they’re floating on a cloud away from all of their problems. Which is why I was afraid to try CBD at first because I didn’t want an effect like that. But CBD doesn’t hit you like a prescription does. It’s very slow so after a while, I’ll notice that I feel calm. Taking CBD oil reminds me of taking an ibuprofen when something is hurting. I don’t notice it kick in immediately – it happens so slowly that I didn’t even realize it was starting to work until 30 minutes later when I notice that my headache is gone. Which is why you may not even notice the effects of CBD and realize that it’s working because it doesn’t hit you like a Xanax. Days might go by and you’ll suddenly have an “ah-ha” moment in traffic like me.

Focus –The other thing that I noticed after being on CBD was that it also helped me get out of my own head and focus on what was in front of me. My mind normally races so much that it’s hard to really pay attention when I’m reading, working, or writing. Now, instead of seeing something that I have to get done and letting it overwhelm me and stress me out, CBD has helped me put my feelings aside and focus on one thing at a time. I have no idea how it does this, but it does. Why did I not get on board with this when I was still in school?!

Take-Away

I feel so guilty for judging people who took CBD as a supplement and assuming that people just used it because they thought it was cool. Maybe some people do. But I’ll admit it… I messed up. Sorry! I now take CBD oil with my other supplements morning and night and it has made each day brighter and more manageable. Now that I’ve seen what a difference it can make, I’m experimenting with some other CBD products and see which ones are the best for me. But as of now, Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web are the two that I keep going back to.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, or maybe you just have a hard time focusing, I think you should consider doing some research on CBD, talking to your doctor, and trying a supplement like this. Everyone is different, but this could be a simple lifestyle change that could make a huge difference in your mental state and your day-to-day experience.

Have you taken CBD oil? What has your experience been? Have you noticed any positive (or negative) changes? What brands do you use? What brands do you dislike? If you don’t understand CBD or may be against it, what are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments! I love hearing the new perspectives! And, if you like what you read, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol and type in your email to subscribe! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.