Thursday, June 27, 2013

New diet and workout!! がんばれ!

I'll be making more use of this blog as I journal to help support a new lifestyle. In the past year, I've been working a fairly physically demanding job while also being a student. As a result, I felt like I was getting enough activity and my time for other things ... basically disappeared. I finally have some extra time on my hands!

So, I decided to start working towards a better lifestyle. I put on maybe 10 lbs through the year but I think my muscle mass should be about the same (or more due to work). I can still do a few pulls up in a row but my diet has been going downhill. I'd been faithfully sticking to this diet a year ago and it went quite well.. I believe my boyfriend may also be willing to join in.

Things to eat
-proteins and fats: lean meats and occasionally red meat, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, oils minimally
-vegetables: any and all but lighter on starch overall
-yogurt, small amounts of milk for coffee/tea (I am sensitive to dairy)
-herbs, spices, tea, coffee
1200-1600 calories

Things not to eat
-everything else

-Zwows, P90x (even though I dislike those videos), or similar self made workouts 5 times a week. If they are intense, they can be for as little as 15 minutes. I did this before and know it is effective.
-stretching before and after working out or going to work
-throw in walking, hiking, biking, swimming, group casual sports games as I please (can be substituted for the workouts above)

My goal will be to maintain this for 3 months with cheat days no more than once per month. It is flexible enough though for me to maintain this plan. This will be starting tomorrow as I get groceries and get recipes set up. I will also be posting relevant recipes I try out here as well as the work outs I am doing if they are online. As a general explanation for the workouts, I included P90X because my boyfriend likes to do those dvd's and has them. In that genre, I really prefer Zuzuka Light who was the old host of BodyRockTv. I find working out with her on youtube enjoyable whereas the host of p90x is kind of annoying. For the sake of convenience and variety I am including both. In general p90x videos are long and not very effective in my opinion but I am willing to do them once or twice a week in a pinch.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dietary effects on the voice

I haven't been doing much recording lately after passing out on 26th and learning of my new medical complication to deal with. But another factor in that, is when you try to sing and you aren't eating a very healthy diet, it generally doesn't go very well. Other people may not be as sensitive vocally as I am, but if I eat certain foods like dairy, the effect is obvious. In fact, it takes about two weeks for my voice to completely clear up if it becomes rough from poor diet.

Here is a casual recording I did:

When singing through a song with only one try, diet can really start to make a difference. If their is a thicker film on your vocals, you don't always have time to clear it (which can start to cause its own irritation). For higher female voices this is even more important. Soprano singers have thinner vocal chords and hence, can't take the damaging effects of growling, screaming, or rough singing styles as well as alto or male vocalists.

With poor diet, not only will there be more rough texture in my voice but also a decrease in range from less vocal flexibility and a breathier tone. It really sounds ridiculous, but after years of trial and error this genuinely seems to be the case.

So then what is one to do?

If you are experiencing similar vocal issues, give exercise and an elimination diet a try. Eat essentially fruits, vegetables, meat/seafood, legumes, and nuts if you aren't allergic. For noodles try bean noodles or Korean sweet potato noodles and have 10% or less of your diet consisting of grains of your choice. I usually stick to rice. Pair this with regular exercise, regular hydration, and only gentle vocalization. When I have faithfully followed this, there is a definite pay off. Unfortunately, in the past I tend to fall into my bad habits again of eating too much sugar, dairy, or a high carb diet. These seem to dry out the throat and cause increased mucous.

When you have already tried the more straight forward methods like not over training your voice, straining, smoking etc, definitely give this a try for two weeks and see what it does for you. After the holiday chocolates and hearing the effects, I'm on my fifth day of this diet and looking forward to it clearing up  ♪ヽ(´▽`)ノ

But for now, I believe it is time for me to start going on short hikes in the woods again. After the passing of my dog and companion in the woods I'll admit I have been avoiding it for that reason. But as somebody who grew up spending part of nearly every day walking out in the woods or on the coast, it is starting to feel quite awkward to leave that behind. It is bittersweet.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cassia Obovata (why, how, and results)

This stuff is really great for my hair. It does have some conditioning effects but the main reason I love using it, after only doing so twice, is the subtle color deposit. Luckily, the effect is temporary. Currently the gradient in my hair goes from a light golden brown at the roots with subtle highlights, to a deep golden blonde by the time it is near my shoulders, and then brown again courtesy of faded box dyes. I think my description sounds worse on paper than it actually looks. Or, that could just be wishful thinking.

Cassia solves all--okay, most--of this problem for me though. Cassia may also be somewhat ineffective for all hair colors in this way but works well for my golden blonette. It can start to feel as though the gods sent down this miracle herb conjured up specifically for my own needs. Not the case. Yes, more wishful thinking.
My hair is to a point where the ends are fairly healthy in comparison to the rest of the length. Still, there is a noticeable reduction in cling after cassia. However, the main conditioning benefit is that there is a bit more of a healthy deep shine. This is a definite bonus but I wouldn’t describe it as having more of an impact than the temporary shine of EVOO and ACV. 

So at this point if you are still reading and think cassia would be a good option for you, I’ll try to briefly explain how you apply it. 

Well, first, you have to find it. I got mine from Henna Sooq which I find to be very good quality. It is finely ground and packaged in multiple layers to preserve freshness. That being said, I have nothing else to compare it to so ymmv.

The mix I am using:
-60-100 grams of cassia per application. Yes, I can actually get away with that little and don’t think more would give better results for my hair.
-Put this in a bowl and add enough water for it to be similar to a slightly thick pancake mix.
-add a squeeze of lemon (might be about 1 tablespoon or less). 

Then, I cover the cassia and let it sit for 1-2 hours. After patiently waiting and fretting if you are about to turn your hair green or bozo orange, apply it to dry sectioned hair and slowly work through. I focus on the lightest sections first to make sure these areas get an even application (in the event I run low). Personally, I clip my hair into multiple cinnamon buns and put on a shower cap. Then, it sits on my hair for again 1-2 hours. 

Some people have reported difficulty rinsing the cassia out of their hair. This may depend on brand, hair type, or rinsing method. I’ve had no issues at all with this so I will describe how I rinse my cassia out. First, I lean over the bathtub and take out one bun (I usually have about 4 of them). Then, I turn on the faucet and put that chunk of hair into the stream of water. I continue this until each section has the worst of the grit out. The next step is to fill the bathtub with about 4” of water. I soak my hair in this while splashing it up on my scalp. There may be a little grit left but it isn’t very noticeable. After all of that I get in the shower and use a little shampoo on my scalp only. I follow this with conditioner. For my hair, this method does not create tangles and easily removes the cassia.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Illness and its effects on hair

I’ve seen numerous people who have grown out their hair and lost a great deal of thickness or on the other hand start on a path towards longer and healthier hair after such a loss. Personally, I had a period of about one year before deciding to grow out my hair after being ill. I wasn’t suffering from anything life threatening but I did end up with inflammation of my spleen, lining of my heart, and liver due to severe mono. This caused bradycardia and medically low blood pressure, blood loss through.. (TMI), and anemia. I had some of these issues addressed while hospitalized and others in later ER visits. My health improved when my body finally could break that cycle but it takes a very long time for the immune system and body as a whole to recover. For example, after I broke a bone in my foot, my body was unable to heal itself properly. Or, the flu would turn into a month and a half of bronchitis. Many medical conditions, including some mental conditions, effect the hair, nails, and other bodily functions. After that period I have great sympathy for those dealing with chronic and painful illness. It’s also very important to note that changes in hair can also signal that a trip to the doctor is needed. What’s more, if you have been struggling to get through periods of lesser health, previous thickness and hair luster can be regained. The key is patience and attention to one’s health. 

First, here is a photo from about a year before I was diagnosed with mono:

I chose this one because it is clear from the photo that my hair is naturally relatively thick. My hair grew longer and I got some layers with the longest layer being a bit below BSL. Then, I became ill. I wasn’t paying attention to my hair at all during that period so I didn’t even notice the extreme difference until after. This photo illustrates the difference well:

I had a “medical haircut”… meaning my hair shed at such a rate it became shorter. I’m glad that at the time I did not realize how severely my hair was effected. It would have just been one more thing I felt I couldn’t overcome.

Then a little over a year passed and I started to take photos (I had dyed my hair in the meantime and had a large hair cut that grew out considerably):

Below my shoulders the old thinning is still very visible. Especially on the sides where it looks scraggly.This was already after a large cut between APL and shoulders and then a few small trims. However, you can also tell the top looks thick again.

Since then, I have trimmed regularly and tried to take better care of my hair. The thickness is definitely growing down. Before, when I would trim the bottom inch off, that inch would be well under .5” in circumference. It was this way until recently. For the first time, I had to make an effort to cut off the bottom inch and it was more of a substantial chunk of hair. Honestly, I don’t think my hair is even completely recovered at this time. It has now been three years of relentless patience. It is worth it to me though.
I wanted to get my old hip length hair back:

(ps- I don't smoke!! that is a candle.. )

But, now I believe I will try to surpass that. 

What has helped my efforts thus far:
-Patience. This means burying your face in the sand sometimes and not comparing your progress to others. Unfortunately after severe shedding you have two options: keep the thinned out hair or cut it off. I felt my hair looked really odd thick on top with wisps through the length so my goal always was to cut it off.  The result of this is that while others grow rapidly to their goals, you will be the tortoise. But remember that we all have individual needs and don’t fret over it. 

-Regular trims. I was never a trimmer before. I would go years without a cut or at best only once a year. But, I do believe small trims on a frequent basis help your hair recover faster. If nothing else, you don’t have to wait months to remove the thinnest bottom inch. Once you get to a point you are reasonably satisfied with you can always alter the frequency you trim. 

-Not looking at my hair from behind. This goes back to trying to ignore it and not let it get you down. For the first half year of growing my hair, this would regularly result in tears. The fear that you will never recover can be overwhelming. Are the old years gone forever? Are you now incapable of growing hair past your shoulders that looks uniform? You can’t know those answers but not letting the questions get the better of you, will give you the strength to try and reach your potential. 

-Happiness in small victories. For me that was petting my new growth and feeling how soft it was. It was only a few inches but at least I had that ^_^’

-Acceptance of imperfections. Remind yourself that you are a work in progress. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Those who tell you: it is all downhill from here for you, your hair is too scraggly to grow, you are older now I guess your beautiful hair is gone, or even those who tell you what you *should* do with your hair. In one ear out the other. 

Remember that the road is long. 

Happy growing

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; it is the rust we value, not the gold

White Widow

Long ago star crossed lovers were torn apart
Into the woods, he with bow then her with torch
Saplings grew and fell; her memories withered away
Searching for love lost without a face nor a name
Yet her feet wandered on trickling as a brook
Longing for his touch as the waves do for the moon

If you wish to live, resist temptation’s kiss
The White Widow watches in the distance
Taste her sweet venom at your risk
Beware of her bitter sea of loneliness
The White Widow is watching you

If you happen on her path and hear the rhythm of the woods
Keep your ears keen for the sudden stillness that ensues

An interlude in the quivering of the leaves
Though a wind wafts sweet honeysuckle on the breeze
Ahead where the light plays amongst the branches
There is she aglow, skin luminescent as jasmine
Her hyacinth hair falling to her feet
A weary wanderer in transient mortality

Oh how fair a maiden
Though painful stay away
Enchanting her words
When you hear her say

Without you I cannot die
So on this Earth I roam
I need your arms for rest
How long I’ve been alone
Without a future
Without a past
My life’s an endless quest
Lay with me
Embrace me in our death

If you wish to live, resist temptation’s kiss
The White Widow beckons in the distance
Taste her sweet venom at your risk
Beware of her bitter sea of loneliness
The White Widow calls to you

Many men claim the power to resist the white widow’s gaze
So was it love or was it lust that drove them to the forest’s grave

The White Widow will give you all she is
And then pull you under

-by mlm

Sunday, January 1, 2012

About my hair and the girl it is attached to ^.^

Name: Mary

Height: 177cm/ 5'9.5”

Hair color: light brown/dark blonde. Coined “blonette” Neutral to warm gold

Dye: I had previously colored my hair a warm dark brunette and raven mostly with semipermanent dyes. This has grown out past my shoulders and faded to a medium brown. Now, I use cassia which has a temporary effect.

Texture: 2a – loose waves

Thickness: M/C– medium to coarse thickness of hair strands

Volume: ii/iii – moderately thick at nape (ca. 4.2”-4.4”)

: 2 – moderately slippery hair, not prone to tangles

Stiffness: 5 – high, fairly voluminous at roots and not very flexible

: 3-4 – forms clumps but tends towards some fluffiness

Goal Length:

Currently tailbone length but I may extend this further.

Hair Care Regimen:


- Trader Joes Nourishing Spa shampoo and conditioner, Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Conditioner, VO5 Kiwi Lime Conditioner

- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Cassia Obovata from Henna Sooq
-Aloe Vera Gel

Wash Routine(1-3 times a week):

-frequently I apply EVOO or EVOO and honey an hour before washing
- Shampoo as needed on scalp only

- Apply conditioner through length and then a smaller amount through hair near scalp (when CO washing I apply to scalp first and massage through, cover and go about business before rinsing)

- rinse in medium temperature water

- about once a month this is followed by an ACV or white vinegar rinse at 1:10 dilution

- finger comb part and into place, wide tooth comb as needed

- apply no product or apply Aloe Vera Gel with a small amount of EVOO mixed in gently

- wait and leave untouched
-if I am planning on just wearing it up, I will brush it through with no product so it dries faster

The result of this method on wavy hair:

Things I avoid or no longer do:

-heat styling
-chemical dyes
-salon visits. I cut my hair myself.
-daily washing
-no trims in 2012

My previous routine and recent hair history:
Previously my hair was hip length hair and had been achieved through benign neglect. After a devastating loss, my hair was cut to shoulder length and I was temporarily pleased. Then, when I returned to Japan I was talked into Thermal Reconditioning because of the frizz my hair had in the humid climate. I enjoyed this also. But, this opened the door for experimentation and I fell into the hair care traps of the average US youth:
-washing daily
-blow drying followed by flat irons or curling irons daily
Still, I managed to grow my hair back out to about waist length with little effort.
Then, during a period of illness my hair shed out. I got a very layered haircut with side bangs to compensate for this. I also colored my hair a dark brown followed by black. I kept this color as a result of pressure from my then boyfriend. I did begin the transition of growing out my layers though and had a major hair cut to remove the long rat tail (^_^’) from over layering.
When I found the Long Hair Community I had already stopped coloring and decided to completely stop heat styling. For 2-3 months my hair looked as though it was in a terrible state as a result of fading dye, previous heat styling, and overgrown layers. The artificial gloss of the dye receded and I was not left with my semi-glossy natural locks but instead hair that held a shine similar to carpet. After ceasing to heat style, when my hair would air dry it was neither wavy nor straight. The pattern of my wave was completely indiscernible and more akin to cotton candy. To add to my frustration, I had a steep V cut and previous thinning. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos that accurately capture the state of my hair then.
I started to make changes in tandem with regular trims. I continue to try to overcome that period of my life and I believe my efforts in regards to my hair are another manifestation of this. I look forward to seeing what I can achieve in the future.