31 January, 2012

Protective Styling Woes and Victories for Fine Hair

Feb. 2011

The above picture is of my hair in February of 2011 and as you can see, my twists are not like those luscious, thick and full twists we see so many fabulous ladies rocking. My hair has always been fine and a low density even when I was relaxed. So, when I went natural, this translated to gap-y twists and I just didn't like the look on me. Normally, I would just move on from it...okay so my hair doesn't do individual twists so what? But I just couldn't move on. Why, you ask?  Because I knew that since I had fine hair, it was important for me to wear more protective styles and to me, protective styles were twists pinned up and left alone for several days at a time.

However, I just didn't like the look on me. I tried...I mean REALLY tried to love it on me. I would wear more makeup, bigger earrings, cute bows/headbands,flowers, beanies (can't wear them everywhere); and I still didn't like it. So, the next question was, how was I going to protect these fine strands of mine while satisfying my psychological need to like the way my hair is styled?

Well, I decided to try other protective styles like: buns (I was pulling on my edges too much), twist outs (too much manipulation every night but it was better), flat twists (worked the best), and updos on stretched hair (liked it a lot). So, I had many options to choose from now and upon implementation, my hair was thriving. You see, the above picture is of my hair after 3 years of being natural. Yes, the twists were on wet hair so it was a bit shrunken but I was not retaining appreciable length until I started doing more protective styles.

Fast forward to December 2011 when I decided to revisit individual twists:
Dry Twists December 2011

Wet Twists with Shrinkage Dec 2011

 My results were better this time around for several reasons:
  • I had cut off about 2" of color damaged ends so my hair looked better
  • I discovered that twisting in the opposite direction from what feels natural to me yielded plumper twists as the twists tend to unravel just a little bit thereby making them appear plumper (try this and see what you think. It was a game changer for me.)
  • My hair had more length and density (from shorter hair growing out) from many months of more protective styling
Mind you, I still prefer flat twists and updos for my fine and low density tresses but whenever I do individual twists in my bang area, they do not look as spac-y anymore.
Updo after taking out  flat twists

Love me some flat twists. SO many styles you can create

As you can see, my hair is still not very dense but I make it work
Crochet Braids are also great when worn for short stints

Are you a fine-haired-low-density natural? Try these tips and let me know what you think and please share any other tips and tricks you have for protecting your ends.

30 January, 2012

Small Steps amounts to a Giant Leap - 28 days challenge recap

When I told a friend I wanted to do this challenge, she said "why don't you just do an hour and a half of workout on one day and call it a day?" I completely understand where she was coming from. I used to be that girl who felt success only when I had spent 2 or so hours at the gym. It was all or nothing for me. If I read an article that said that you had to do one hour of exercise a day to loose weight, it was that hour or nothing. But of course as you can imagine, this mentality had major pitfalls.

For one thing, life is the most predictably unpredictable thing there is. There is the issue of a job, school, family, spiritual activities, sleep and many more things that clamour for our time. If you are anything like me, these other things manage to get my most undivided attention with exercise falling to the wayside.

Think about it...if you were to choose between spending 20 minutes driving to the gym, doing your exercise of choice for on hour, driving back home - another 20 minutes (a total of 1 hour 40 minutes) and going home and relaxing in front of the TV or making dinner, which would you choose? Of course, there are those who will choose the former but statistics show that for most Americans, the later is a more feasible choice.

That's why I took on the 28 days challenge of doing at least 10 minutes of exercise for 28 consecutive days inspired by SparkPeople.com. I'm happy to say that I did it!! yay!! It wasn't as hard as I thought because I had the help of the amazing ladies on the Facebook group we created to motivate each other and check in after our workouts each day. That was a HUGE factor!

Another resource that made it easier was being able to workout at home. Shelli over at Hairscapades mentioned in a post how important it was for her to develop an at home workout program and I completely agree. Don't get me wrong, I still love me some Zumba and running and all that but knowing that I have an at home routine means one less excuse and you can do it at any time of the day or night or dawn lol.

Chris Downie the founder of SparkPeople says it best in his book "The Spark":

                           "Small steps not only lay a firm foundation of success and confidence when you're starting out but also make it easier to recover when you've had a setback. You can easily return to small steps to get back on track."

So, here is to small steps that will ensure we get to take that big leap!!

29 January, 2012

Weightloss update in pictures

I'm so sorry I don't post as often as I ought to. The thing is, school started and since this is my final semester (if I don't completely fail or something) before I go on to become a bonafide nurse, school is HARD and there is no extra time to spare but I will give it my best try because I do love blogging.
Okay, to my 2 month weight loss/healthy lifestyle review ranging from November 2011 to January 2012. These are the numbers:
    November 2011
    January 2012
    37” (might have measured too low)
    Lower Abdomen
    Thigh (L)
    Arm (L)
Weight loss: 7lbs
Several inches lost
BMI is down
So, even though, I am not where I want to be i.e. 1.5lb loss a week, the scale is not the only measurement of success. I feel better, I dropped one clothing size, I look better, I'm happier and I have greater physical abilities. It is all these factors combined that makes a success. Here is to a new month and continued success. Stay tuned for a post on how my 28 days workout challenge worked out and what I plan to do differently in the next month.
How is everyone else doing?

19 January, 2012

Four Dos in Four Days

From the 13th to the 19th
A proof of my hair boredom that leads to over manipulation:
  • it started with crochet braids which turned out lovely but was way too big, just got in the way of everything I was doing. You might say why not pull it back, well I didn't like how it looked pulled back :) I know excuses excuses. I took it out in 2 days
  • then I though, I will do a flat twist out. I didn't like the way it looked so I fashioned an updo out of it,
  • my current "do" is a flat twist updo that has been in for...drum roll... 2 days. So far, I like it, it keeps me out of my hair and I like the style.
What is the most styles you've done in a week?
Posted by Picasa

10 Months of Hair Growth in Pictures

It is said that pictures are worth more than a thousand words. The above is a comparison of my twists in a span of 10 months and I am pretty impressed, let me explain. I know this is by no means a feat in itself but for me, this amount of growth retention is huge for several factors:
  • I have super super super fine hair that all you have to do is look at it the wrong way and it dissolves into a million pieces,
  • I am not a very patient person, never have been...not in life and certainly not when it comes to dealing with my hair. I am a work in progress though :),
  • I combed my hair multiple times a week and even though I saw the breakage, it didn't occur to me to stop combing my hair until about a couple of months ago,
  • I didn't have a consistent regimen (I'm still working on that) I just did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted,
  • I have serious ADHD when it comes to keeping in styles. I get bored easily so it's not uncommon for me to re-braid my hair 3 times in a week,
  • I cut off about 2 inches of hair in December due to color damage (I had colored my hair with permanent color 3 times in a month because I wanted a "honey blond" color...can I say epic fail!?!?)
I can go on and on but I won't because you get the picture. I will continue to improve and be grateful that not only did I have hair left on my head, there was a marginal improvement.

What has been the hindrances to you hair growth journey?

Posted by Picasa

06 January, 2012

Post Yarn Braids Twist Out

I just wanted to write a quick post shwoing my twist out from these twists last night. When I woke up this morning it was pretty much all dried just a little bit damp but not enough I didn't think to cause major frizz. I like the texture of my hair, it feels really moisturized and not as oily as it can get when I use an oil to seal. Which brings me to a lesson I've learned since being natural, a lot of leave-ins have oils in them to ensure they act as a sealing agent as well and while it is still ideal to seal with a butter or oil to ensure optimum moisturization, we don't need as much as we think. I kinda don't like it when I realize that my hubby won't touch my hair cuz it always leaves his palms super greasy. Pictures below:

I'm going to maintain the look by putting in about 6 flat twists every night...I like the look of flat twist outs better than regular twisst outs. Do you like flat twist outs or twist outs better?

Till later,

05 January, 2012

Yarn Twists....The END

I had my yarn twists in for exactly how long I thought I was gointg to...2 weeks. Once it clicked in my mind that the 2 weeks was up, I got the invisible itch to see my hair again. I can be very impulsive, I can regale you with stories of how I will go to the 24 hour Walgreen's at 12am to buy some hair bleach and a relaxer kit, come home and then relax AND bleach my hair all before 3am smh. Yup, so I am very impulsive when it comes to hair. But it was good while it lasted and the best part is that since I did twists, I can always put it back in next week and it will take only 4 hours or so.

Now, to the take down process. It took me only 30 minutes or so undo my whole head of hair which wasn't bad AT ALL!! I usually would detangle as I go but I didn't this time and I wish I had because when it came time to detangle, I was overwhelmed, impatient and in the process probably broke hair that did not need to be broken. Again, patience is key when handling natural hair, so my advice will be to detangle as you go, one unraveled braid at a time. Since I was rushing through the detangling process this is what I did:
  • Divided my hair into five sections,
  • slathered on coconut oil on each section and sprayed it lightly with some water,
  • I finger-detangled some, followed by a wide-tooth comb (I haven't used a comb on my hair in quite a while),
  • I used the mud wash to wash my hair making sure to concentrate my efforts on my roots to get rid of any buildup,
  • I applied some AO GBP conditioner from root to tip, covered with a shower cap and deep conditioned for about 20 minuted under my hooded dryer,
With the conditioner in

  • I washed off the deep conditioner (all the while my hair is in the four twists). At this point, my hair was uber soft and moisturized,
  • I divided each section into four smaller sections,
  • I then used a little bit of the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Style Milk on each section as a leave-in and a little bit of Jane Carter Nourish and Shine to seal the very ends and twisted each section - flat twist the roots to maintain a uniform curl pattern as well as well as ensure that the roots are not puffy - for a total of 20 twists,

  • that's it! I went on to the gym and came back and rolled my hair on flexi-rods (try to roll your hair in a spiral formation to ensure that the curls are elongated)
I hope my twist-out comes out good tomorrow, I will sleep on a satin scarf to hopefully ensure it dries fully. We all know how hard it is to get hair to dry fully when set on soaking wet hair. Will post pictures tomorrow.

Anyone impulsive, impatient or flat out abusive to their hair (could be past tense too), well share on how you overcame it or how you plan to overcome it. I need help!


03 January, 2012

28-Day Workout Challenge

I've been using SparkPeople for a couple of years now as an aid to living a healthier lifestyle but it wasn't until this summer did I take it seriously. Check it out if you are looking for a completely free and wonderful program to help jumpstart your weight loss journey. You can track your food,  workouts, and also serves as a great resource for online support as they have a very active community.

Anyways, back to the title of the post. Sparkpeople has this thing called "streaks" which is basically committing to doing something everyday to see how long you can go without missing a day. So a streak can be anything from sleeping at least 8 hours a night to drinking at least 8 glasses of water everyday.

I've chosen a streak for January and that is, to workout for at least 20 minutes everyday; at least 10 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes strength training. Of course aiming for more is great but the whole point is to make working out not sound as daunting as it can sometimes be. So, as long as you get those 20 minutes in, you've achieved your goal for that day. Believe me, if you are anything like me and have an all or nothing mentality, this keeps you motivated to workout every day because it means no little is too little, not even only 20 minutes. And the best part is that you can split the 20 minutes into two sessions of 10 minutes each woohoo!

To enable you stick to this, it is beneficial to have an arsenal of 10 minute workout videos right? Well, I joined sparkpeople's 28-day Bootcamp Challenge. It provides you with several 10 minute videos that you can do once or several times over for when you can't get to the gym. I love those videos because then there is no excuse not to get at least that 10 minutes in.

So over the next 28 days, I plan to mix and match several of my favorite workouts as follows:
  • Running: I'm training for a half marathon in May
  • Zumba: I love love zumba
  • Cardio Kickboxing: I love group classes and I really push myself during them
  • Step: 45 mins class
  • Spinning: 1 hour class
  • Weightlifting (Using The Female Fitness Bible 12 week program and
  • Multiple DVDs  (Jillian Micheals, Turbo Jam, sparkpeople)
Shelli over at Hairscapades is going for the 28 day streak as well but with different workouts planned. So, please join us in making this a very active 28days!! Let's make this more interesting by checking in every week to see how we are doing. You can just comment on this post or send me an email and I will put together a weekly post with everyone's update. Cool?