31 December 2011

My 2012 "Whole Body Challenge"

I promised to post my routines/regimens for my 2012 challenge, and here they are! I'll have a separate one for spiritual development, physical/nutritional development and hair growth.

Spiritual Development:
Strive to spend at least 60 minutes a day Bible reading, and 10 minutes praying, for a total of 70 minutes. I'll break it up into to two sessions every day, 35 minutes each. In the morning, I'll be working through different studies in the 40 Minute Bible Studies from Precept Ministries International: How Do You Walk the Walk You Talk?, How to Make Choices You Won't Regret, What Does the Bible Say About Sex? and Turning Your Heart Toward God. At night (right before bed), I'll spend my time reading through the Bible. It's part of a program my church is doing called The Amazing Read. They divided the Bible into 24 "legs" or segments, and the congregation is divided into teams. Each team can take as long as they want to read through the Bible - as long as they finish reading it. I'm a team leader, and since there are 24 legs, I thought my team could take 2 years to go through the Bible, one leg a month. So this year, I'll be reading through Genesis, Matthew, Exodus, Mark, Leviticus, Luke, Numbers, John, Deuteronomy, Acts, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Romans, 1 Samuel, 1 Corinthians, 2 Samuel, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Kings, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra and 2 Thessalonians. My prayer time will consist of praying through a list of prayer requests for missionaries in Asia (e-mailed to me every month by OMF), my personal prayer requests and my friends' requests. I'm planning to not skip a day, but life happens. My big test will be when I skip a day and feel so terrible that I skip the rest of the week and dump the plan altogether...

Physical/Nutritional Development
I'll be following Phase I of the G.I. (Glycemic Index) diet closely. Basically, I'll only be eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes (beans), high-fiber breads, low-fat meats, low-fat dairy products and water. I'm staying away from sugar, white flour, processed foods, fruit juices, etc. However, the author of The G.I. Diet suggests that you follow the program 90% of the time, and allow yourself leeway 10% of the time. Since next year is a leap year, 10% of the days would be 36 "junk days" where I could eat whatever I want. I'm marking these days on my calendar, because it'll be more helpful for me to know when I can and can't eat junk than just saying "I'll eat sugar once a month." So, most of my days will be given over to birthdays, holidays and PJ Day at Bruster's.
For exercise, my goal is to get in 60 minutes of physical exertion six days a week. I'll be doing different in-home workout DVDs and doing interval jogging in my (very hilly) neighborhood. The DVDs are: 10 Minute Solution Pilates for Beginners, 10 Minute Solution Hip Hop Dance Mix, Walk Away the Pounds Express 3 Mile Advanced Walk/4 Mile Super Challenge and 400 Calorie Fix Workout. When I do interval jogging, I start out by doing 5 minutes of walking and 1 minute of jogging, continuing until 60 minutes has elapsed. The better I become, the less walking (and more jogging) I do. It's great for improving stamina, toning the lower body, and getting in a great aerobic workout. By May (which is when my school has a banquet for everyone in grades 9-12), I hope to have dropped 20-35 pounds. And I'd like to get down from a Women's/Misses' size 16 to a Misses' size 12...and maybe even squeeze into a Juniors' size 13 or 15. We'll see how it goes though.

Hair Growth Development
The nutritional and physical regimens will be beneficial for my hair, so my hair length goal will be to get to the middle of my ears with shrinkage. For hair growth, I'll pretty much be following my normal regimen. But, I'm going to change up my pre-poo/DC that I do with LeKair because the store I purchase my hair products at doesn't sell it anymore! *angry face* So, taking a hint from the wonderful ladies on the CurlyNikki forums, I'm going to be doing an avocado/EVOO pre-poo every week. If I puree the avocado and mix it with about a 1/2 cup of EVOO and use it the same way I used to use LeKair, it will work well.  I'm also going to make sure that I add EVOO to all of my combing conditioners, and apply it to my hair before I go to bed every night. And I'm going to be more consistent with "refreshing"/moisturizing my curly locks every day, and not just when I'm going out in public. Instead of posting my regimen (because it's basically the same thing that I always do), I'll just show you the products I'll be using for the next several months (I don't purchase my hair products for an entire year, so as I run out of products and purchase more, I'll post as needed):
Avocado and EVOO blend

Bioluxe Hydrating Shampoo
TRESemme Vitamin B1 Flawless Curls Curl Moisturizing Shampoo for Curly or Wavy Hair

Rinse Conditioner:
Alberto VO5 Herbal Escapes Balancing Conditioner Sun Kissed Rasberry with Chamomile Extract
Alberto VO5 Repair & Protect Strengthening Conditioner with Vitamin E and Panthenol
Alberto VO5 Herbal Escapes Strengthening Conditioner Anti-Oxidant Rich Pomegranate & Grapeseed Extract
Suave Naturals Sun-Ripened Strawberry Conditioner Infused with Strawberry Extract and Vitamin E
Alberto VO5 Moisture Milks Moisturizing Conditioner Passion Fruit Smoothie with Soy Milk Protein
Suave Naturals Sweet Pea & Violet Conditioner Infused with Sweet Pea Extracts and Vitamin E

Combing Conditioner:
TRESemme Vitamin H & Silk Proteins Smooth & Silky Touchable Softness Conditioner for Dry or Brittle Hair
Aussie Sydney Smooth Conditioner
TRESemme Multi-Vitaminas y Proteinas Proteccion Caida Protege Contra la Caida del Cabello Acondicionador para Cabello Debil y Maltratado
Aussie Moist Conditioner

That's it! Oh, and I posted my pictures and starting measurements for the 12 Inches in 12 Months Challenge on the CurlyNikki forums.

Buena suerte, chicas!

~ Kimberlee

29 December 2011

My 2012 Health Challenge

You may already know about the 12 Inches in 12 Months Challenge that FreedomCurl posted on her blog and in the CurlyNikki forums. I'm definitely in on this challenge, as are many other naturalistas. Alongside this hair growth challenge, I'm going to challenge myself physically as well. I've long been overweight, and this year my weight seems to have spiraled out of control. With college quickly approaching, I've realized that I don't want to be the "fat girl" on campus. I'd like to have fun picking out clothes for that long drive/plane ride to the university grounds. I want my self-confidence to increase. I owe this to my family as well. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and many other weight-related diseases run rampant in both sides of my family. I want to stop that cycle. Above these other reasons (however well-intentioned) is the ultimate motivation: my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul asks the church in Corinth "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" I am not bringing glory to God by being lazy, eating unhealthy foods, and not participating in physical activity. So, from 1 January 2012 to 30 July 2012, I'm going to be totally changing my lifestyle: daily spiritual food, consistent exercise, healthy eating, etc. I'll be posting a detailed, seven-month plan for each aspect of this challenge (spiritual, health-wise, and hair-wise) either tomorrow or Saturday.

Hasta luego, chicas!

Blogger Shout Out!

I just wanted to give a huge thanks to FreedomCurl (known as 00taytay00 in the CurlyNikki forums), who kindly featured me in her blog today. Check out this page to see what it's all about!

Hasta luego!


Miscellaneous Ramblings...

I received several headbands for Christmas this year, and I finally got around to wearing one of them! It's a black headband with a large, black, 6-petaled flower. There are spotted feathers on top of the petals, and in the center are six black rhinestones and an imitation pearl. But a picture speaks a thousand words, so here's what it looks like on me:

And here's a photo of the headband on its own...

I think my mom did a pretty good job picking this out. I felt a little self-conscious wearing it at first (because I was never a huge fan of items that went on top of my head), but after an hour of shopping, I totally forgot that I was wearing it.

Besides rocking my headband, I went shopping (for HOURS) today with mi madre and my younger siblings. We hit grocery stores, Kohl's, and a few other places. I was able to buy 2 new pairs of glasses, and they look amaaaazing! Then my mom went to a gazillion stores looking for Britta filters...which are apparently going to be someone's present for a Secret Santa exchange *raises eyebrow*

Yeah...so besides shopping and totally rockin', nothing much happened today. I'll try to post more later.

Hasta luego!

21 December 2011

12 Inches in 12 Months Challenge!

I'm a member of the CurlyNikki forum, and 00taytay00 posted about Hairlista.com's Growing 12 Inches in 12 Months Challenge. It sounded great, so I joined in! Here's the info, straight from her blog:

Check-In: December 31, 2011

You may use all or some of these methods listed below:

1. Scalp massages everyday or weekly for an entire month OR for all 12 months. But you have to do it for at least a month. Do massages between 10 to 30 minutes, with FINGERTIPS, GENTLY. If you have soreness, avoid that area of your head. You may incorporate oils if you wish.
2. Protective styles/low manipulation styles at at least 3 to 5 days out of the week.
3. Either no heat until December 31, 2012, heat once a month, or heat every few months. Exceptions for special occasions.
4. Exercise two to three times a week minimum. If you can, find exercises that can really pump the blood such as cardio and other aerobic exercises.
5. (optional) Incorporate either the Green House Effect or baggying method weekly.
6. Only get trims when necessary.
7. Moisturize and seal when necessary.
8. Shampoo, co-wash and deep conditioning in the way that you feel suited. Pre-poo if you must, but make sure to detangle and divide hair into sections when washing it.
9. For five to ten minutes daily, rub your fingernails together (NOT your thumbs). Nerves in the nail beds can lead to the scalp and lead to growth. I have already seen improvement in my nails (they have hardened and are shinier) after a month. It also can preserve hair color. Do not rub thumb nails, that can cause hair loss.
10. In the winter month, when wearing hats, where either a silk bonnet underneath the hat OR have silk lining in the hat to protect hair.
11. Sleep with a silk or satin scarf every night or a silk pillowcase.
12. Drink lots of water. They say 8 cups (that is four regular water bottles), but others advise that you drink more. Drink it anyways for your health. Water allows the nutrients to circulate throughout your body.
13. Eat a healthy and BALANCED diet. May sure to eat at least two fruits and two vegetables a day (for those who despise both, I tried to make it easy on you). Some foods that really promote hair growth: fish (omega 3 fatty acids), eggs (omega three fatty acids), oranges (full of vitamin c), nuts (particularly almonds which strengthen hair and produces a shine), carrots (full of vitamin A and makes hair shiny), broccoli (calcium, if you are lactose intolerant like I am), spinach, bananas (full of biotin), some meats (not the fattening ones, but you get protein from meat), etc.
14. Take a daily multi-vitamin.
15. (optional) Use a growth aid. It can be anything from JBCO to Hairfinitiy, to whatever you want. It will simply give you an extra boost
16. Reduce stress. Yoga, meditation, relaxing, simply reduce it because it can slow down hair growth. SLEEP.
17. (optional) If you are relaxed/texlaxed/transitioning, try your best to stretch your relaxers to as long as you feel is reasonable. Simply try to keep your hair in the best shape possible.
18. Every day, say a positive affirmation about yourself to motivate yourself.
19. At the end of each month do a length check to see how you are coming along. Post a pic at the end of every month or few months. You can do it on wet hair, or straightened hair, etc. whichever works best for you. Or you can simply post on the wall how much growth you have had.

December 31, 2011: Post starting pic or write starting length and what length you are attempting to reach.
January-November 2012: At the end of every month, post your progress on this wall. It can either be a comparison photo or a written update about your progress.
December 31, 2012: Final comparison and update. Challenge closed. Post what worked the best for your growth.

Buena suerte!

23 November 2011

My Regimen

Ah, the epitamy of being a natural - the regimen! This is my favorite part to read in blogs, websites, etc. I love seeing the variety of products and what people do. My regimen isn't too original since I follow the Tightly Curly method, but I do add a couple of things that Teri doesn't include...mostly because my hair is dry and very short. So, here's what I do to care for my curly locks:

Friday night:
1. Mix 10 oz  of LeKair Cholesterol Plus Strengthening and Conditioning Cream with about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I don't really need this much, but I always find a way to use it all :-D).
2. Using plastic clips, section hair hair into sizable chunks. Saturate each dry section with the cholesterol/olive oil mixture.
3. Cover head with a plastic grocery bag, then cover bag with my satin cap.
$. Sleep on it.

Saturday morning:
1. Uncover my hair, and thoroughly rinse out the cholesterol/olive oil mix (even with hair as short as mine, this takes at least 2-3 minutes).
2. Shampoo my scalp with a gentle shampoo (my current one is Bioluxe Hydrating Shampoo); rinse thoroughly.
3. Cover my hair and scalp with a cheap rinse conditioner (my favorite is Alberto VO5); rinse thoroughly.
4. Section my hair with clips, and saturate each section with a combing conditioner (I love the TRESemme conditioners for combing!).
5. Use my D3 Denman to comb small sections of my hair at a time.
6. After combing each section, I use my fingers to create "doodles". These are great for curl definition, and I get lots of compliments on them.
7. Let my hair air dry (about 4-8 hours).

Every night:
1. Before I go to bed, I take a nickel sized amount of extra virgin olive oil, rub my hands together, and smooth it on my hairline. I add more and spread it around on the rest of my hair as well.
2. Make 16 twists around my head (this isn't all of my hair, but all of my hair isn't long enough to put into twists without hurting my scalp) and cover hair with a satin cap.

Each morning:
1. Undo twists.
2. Spritz hair with water (Since my hair still kind of feels hard Sunday-Tuesday mornings [which means that there's still plenty of conditioner there and no more needs to be added], this is all I need to do those days, and I skip adding the extra conditioner). .
3. Take a dime-sized dollop of my combing conditioner (Wednesday-Friday), spray water on it several times, then smooth over hair, retwisting any "doodles" that have come undone.

That's it! It seems elaborate, but it's more simple than it seems.

So, curly ladies, what's your hair care regimen? What products do you currently love? Are you trying anything new?

My Biography

Growing up, I had the "bad" hair in the family. My younger sister had long, thick jet black hair that grew easily down her back and seemed to do well with anything. My hair was lighter (though only slightly), tighter, shorter and didn't behave. My mom would cornrow, do "crazy plaits" (what we called two-strand twists), braids, straightening combs...none of them would work well. Many of my close friends at the time had what I considered to be "good" hair. One friend had had a relaxer since she was 2 years old, and I was jealous of how her straight hair always seemed to be better than mine.

After 10 years of yanking and pulling brushes, combs and blow dryers through my poor tresses, I cried that I wanted my hair to be straight like my friend's. So, off to my mother's trusted hairdresser. After that first relaxer application, I lovingly caressed my smooth, straight, shiny and *gasp* long hair! Touch-ups were every 4 weeks. But, at 10 years old, I didn't know how to properly care for chemically processed hair. I didn't wash my hair regularly; I yanked combs from roots to ends while the hair was wet. I didn't do any deep conditioners, use any oils or anything. My hair started to fall out. At 14, I was sick and tired of this. I went on a mission to grow my hair longer. I increased the time between touch-ups to 5 weeks, and I read different books, websites, and tried things on my own. I left concoctions of bananas, mayonnaise, and egg yolks in my hair, hoping that it would strengthen it. I dipped the ends of my ponytail in olive oil for an hour (and made a huge mess!). I tried greasing my scalp, braiding my hair at night - you name it, I did it. Then, I again lengthened the time between touch ups - 6 weeks now. I used a deep conditioner and lots of olive oil. My hair grew (about 4 inches past my shoulders, but no further), but it still bothered me. It was bone straight and thin after a touch up, but after I washed it the next week, it would dry wavy, and once it was combed, I looked like a dark-haired version of Simba.

Between touch ups, my hair would get puffier and puffier. It was a battle to style it without it being stiff. Still, since I was on a longer hair mission, I refused to heat-style it unless it was a special occasion. Not much can be done with relaxed hair when it's not heat styled, so I wore it in ponytails and buns all the time. My mom got so sick of seeing my like that, but I firmly told her that heat would damage my hair. She rolled her eyes and kept walking. One thing I did throughout this time was stick indefinitely to hair products marketed to black women (Optimum Care, Motions, Organic Root Stimulator, etc.). My other friends would use "white" hair products, while I snootily thought to myself, "White people hair stuff will mess up my hair [I had a terrible experience with a Suave shampoo at 9 years old, pre-relaxer]. My hair's better than theirs because I use products for black people." Well, after nearly 7 years of this, I'd had enough. My 2011 New Year's resolution was to grow my relaxer out. But I had no idea how to do it! Where would I look? Who could I turn to? I knew nothing and no one, so on 8 January 2011, I received another (what would be my last) relaxer.

However, during my six-week intermission, I had to start researching for a chemistry project that was due in April. I was exploring the effects of aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly (a common active ingredient in antiperspirants), and one of the ingredients on a product's list had caught my attention. I don't remember what ingredient it was that I searched for, but when I typed it into the Bing searchbox and hit "Enter," I scrolled down the list of websites, and I came across one that included a description of the ingredient. "Great!" I thought, "this looks really informative." I clicked on the link, and I was taken to a plain-looking site. I read the quick description of the ingredient, rendered it useless for my purposes, and then said, "What website is this?" I went to the left side of the site where the links were located, and hit the "Welcome" link. Instantly, I saw "Welcome to the Tightly Curly Site." I began to read the welcome page, and as I slowly scrolled down the page, I was greeted with the sight of a woman who had long, resplendent curls spiraling down her back. My eyes nearly popped out of my head. Could curly hair grow that long? No way! I pored over the site for hours, learning the secrets of this long-haired curly girl. I decided that day (25 January 2011) to follow the Tightly Curly method and grow my hair naturally from then on.  I excitedly told my mom and sister about this new method. My mom took one look at the picture of Teri LaFlesh (the website's creator) and said, "She's mixed, don't expect your hair to look like hers." My sister (who'd had a nasty run-in with a relaxer and now had hair shorter than mine) agreed to try it with me. We chose which products to use (I selected Garnier Smooth & Silky Fortifying Shampoo, Suave Ocean Breeze Conditioner, and Aussie Moist Conditioner), and saw that they were on sale at CVS. Our father took us two days later, and we eagerly purchased almost all of the products we needed. I printed out the Curly Primer, memorized the steps, and tried the Tightly Curly method the next day, along with my sister. Since we didn't have the Denman brush at that time, we simply used combs.

I didn't understand the difference between relaxed and natural hair either; I thought that with enough time, my straightened curls would simply revert back. When my hair dried in crispy waves later that day, I wanted to cry. Why didn't my hair look like Teri's? However, I faithfully braided it up at night, and in the morning, I went to Spanish class with some rockin' waves. My chemically straightened hair was finally silky, smooth and it had body. I soon read on Teri's website about the differences between relaxed and natural hair, and realized that I wouldn't get her results until I cut off all my previously straightened hair - something I wasn't yet ready to do. Yet, I continued her method. I finally saved up enough money to purchase the D3 Denman from Sally's Beauty Supply. I purchased Curly Like Me (Teri's book) on my birthday with a giftcard my friend gave me. I tried lots of different conditioners, and TRESemme became my mainstay. I tried cutting some of my hair; just picking random curls and snipping off the straight parts. I even did the back and front sections (which looked ridiculous, but I didn't care). Around the first week in September, after purchasing my bottle of TRESemme Anti-Breakage conditioner, I became dismayed after it took me 6 hours to comb through my hair. Would it be like this until I cut off my hair? I became very frustrated; I texted my friends that I was going to cut my straightened hair off in a couple of weeks. I asked my mom about it and she said it was fine. But I couldn't handle it. I couldn't face another week of transitioning to natural hair knowing that I'd spend another 6 hours combing my hair.

In the wee hours of 3 September 2011, I methodically went through my hair with a pair of scissors; chopping off every piece of straight hair that I found. When I finished, I could hardly believe I'd done it! I went to the bathroom mirror, gazed at myself, took a picture, and tried to go to sleep. I ran my fingers through my hair again and again, amazed at how soft and spongy and thick and real my hair felt. Later that morning, I went upstairs to eat breakfast, and everybody in my family had something to say...mostly negative. I explained to them that my hair wouldn't look as "wild" after washing it. Aside from the 20 minutes it took to wash my hair, it only took me 1.5 hours to comb and define my curls. A huge difference from the 6 hour ordeal the week before. Now, I'm a bit past my 2 month mark, and not only have my onyx coils grown substantially since then, but so many people have commented on my hair - even those once skeptical of my experiment. I am resolved to never put heat on my hair again - no flat irons, hooded dryers (unless used for a deep conditioning treatment), curling irons, or blow dryers again. It's not all been "rainbows and cotton candy," but it's been rewarding. I LOVE my hair now!

What's your hair story? If you're a newly natural, when did you start transitioning? When did you BC? What were people's reactions? If you're still transitioning, what finally clenched your decision to move towards natural hair? Any struggles? If you've been natural for a while, when's your "nappyversary"? How do you keep your hair routine from getting boring?

17 August 2011

A Fresh Start

Hello all! My name is Kimberlee, and this is my second (and hopefully more successful :-D) attempt at blogging. Primarily, this blog will deal with topics related to caring for naturally curly hair and other beauty issues. I'll be posting many product reviews, asking for your valuable opinions, and more. I'll be writing more later. Until then,