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.