Protecting Your Pup

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This past Sunday, I was given the one of the biggest scares of my life. When reading what happened, many of you may think that I should feel pretty good if this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through, but at the time, I’d never felt so helpless. On Sunday night, Father’s Day, I found myself carrying my 6-month-old puppy, Fitz, into the vet emergency hospital for the second time that day. Leading up to this moment, Fitz hadn’t been eating his food for a few days, but showed no other signs of sickness until he started vomiting that morning. I was surprised that he could even vomit at all, considering how little he had eaten, but he managed to do it about five times that day.

That afternoon, I took him to the only vet office that was open on a Sunday, which was an emergency center. The doctors gave Fitz some anti-nausea medication and fluids to give him some nourishment, and told me to keep and eye on him in hopes of improvement. However, a few hours later he vomited again, prompting me to take him back to the emergency vet. While gathering my things to take him, Fitz laid down on the hard floor away from me, which was unusual behavior for him. I noticed that he wasn’t being responsive at all, aside from his tired eyes following me around the room. Knowing that this wasn’t just tiredness from a rough day, I immediately picked him up and ran out the door, still in my pajamas. Luckily, the vet office was open for 24-hour assistance and less than a 5-minute drive from my place. When we got there, the assistant immediately carried Fitz to the back, since he couldn’t walk, and left me in the waiting room with the weight of the world pressing down on me. Seeing my puppy, who was just as significant to my life as a child would be, in that pathetic state was the most awful thing to witness. Also, not knowing how this happened and how he was doing left me in a shattered state.

When the assistant returned, she told me that his blood sugar was so low that they were surprised he was still able to stand. They were shocked by his sudden health decline, stating that “Fitz was an entirely different dog just a few hours earlier”. With no clear idea of what was going on and heavy concern for Fitz’s health, they kept him overnight on an IV to raise his blood sugar and take some tests. What I hoped would only be a nightlong episode ended up turning into a weeklong nightmare. Fitz stayed in the hospital and endured numerous tests all week. I was a mess that week, spending the days scouring the Internet for answers and crying my eyes out.

When I was finally able to take him home with a stable blood sugar level and otherwise healthy disposition, the doctors still didn’t have an answer to what happened to him. They had narrowed down their theories to a few possibilities including the ingestion of a toxin, a liver shunt, or some sort of congenital vascular system disorder. With this information, I took Fitz home with every possible cautionary step in place. I had instructions to immediately bring him back to the hospital at any sign of sickness and then a follow-up ultrasound and bile acid test to check his liver and surrounding organs again. His follow-up appointment is Thursday, and I couldn’t be more ready and nervous to see his test results. If they aren’t normal, his prognosis won’t likely be so great. I’m praying every minute and crossing every finger for good results.

Now that I know how difficult, emotional, and taxing it is to have a very sick child (or puppy), I can’t help but be the most paranoid mother out there. Dogs are the most forgiving creatures, and I feel so lucky to still have my pup giving me the most unconditional love there is. Now please, go hug your baby.

For all of you doggie owners out there, I’ve gathered a few tips on keeping your pup healthy and how to notice any signs of sickness.

Signs of sickness (other than vomiting and diarrhea):

  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Seclusion
  • Not himself/herself (ex: not excited to play or go on a walk)

Toxins (via ASPCA and Humane Society)

  • Poisonous Foods:
    • Avocado
    • Chocolate
    • Raw bread dough
    • Ethanol/Alcohol
    • Grapes and raisins
    • Hops (in beer)
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Moldy foods
    • Onions and garlic
    • Xylitol – this is a HUGE one because it’s in so many things such as sugar-free gum, candy, and many other sugar free products
    • Coffee and tea
    • Walnuts
    • Tomato leaves and stems
  • Poisonous Plants (not all listed because there are over 300):
    • Holly
    • Mandrake
    • Apple Tree
    • Apricot Tree
    • Azalea
    • Baby’s Breath
    • Begonia
    • Bird of Paradise
    • Black Walnut
    • Ivy
    • Buttercup
    • Lily
    • Carnation
    • Cherry
    • Daffodil
    • Dahlia
    • Daisy
    • Elephant Ears
    • Gardenia
    • Geranium
    • Grass Palm
    • Hibiscus
    • House Pine
    • Hydrangea
    • Mistletoe
    • Morning Glory
    • Mushrooms
    • Oleander
    • Peony
    • Periwinkle
    • Poinsettia
    • Rose of Sharon
    • Tulip
    • Wisteria
  • Other toxins:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Antifreeze
    • Batteries
    • Medications
    • Blue-green algae
    • Detergents
    • Fertilizers
    • Fluoride
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Ibuprofen
    • Lead
    • Mouse and rat poison
    • Mothballs
    • Nicotine
    • Pesticides
    • Tobacco
    • Human vitamins and supplements

Are you guys freaked out yet? Please keep your babies safe and make sure they are protected from these things!

What To Watch Now: Fed Up

o-FED-UP-POSTER-570image via Huffingtonpost.com

Last night, I watched the documentary Fed Up, and I cannot express how eye opening, scary, and important this film is. It investigates America’s obesity epidemic and why our society is only getting bigger and bigger, despite increases in research and “education.” Even though I’m a very health-conscious person and always reading into the latest health news, I still learned quite a bit about how our minds have been brainwashed about nutrition and health over the years. Everyone being affected by this problem, a.k.a. ALL OF US, should watch this documentary and educate themselves about the foods we’re putting in our bodies. So, put down the Doritos, grab some water, and start watching this on Netflix ASAP!

Here are some disturbing images from the documentary:

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images via http://www.momtrends.com

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image via rollingstone.com

Living Proof

First Date at the Barre

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Since I moved up north to Tysons Corner (a.k.a. D.C.), I have been dying to get off my ass on my days off and actually get back into my workout routine that I tried so hard to instill while I was in school. Of course, I quickly realized that after long nine-hour shifts on my feet, all that I was motivated to do on days off was to lay in bed and watch Netflix or read one of the many books I brought from home. Finally, after feeling like I’d officially become a lazy BUM, I made the necessary move to get back into my groove and decided to purchase a series of classes (at a discount) to the new and hot fitness studio of the moment, Pure Barre. I hate to admit it, but I’ve always been really into the crazy fitness trends that go in and out of style just like every other fashion fad we see come and go. However, even though most of these workout classes that I’ve tested out have been the at-the-moment fitness trends, I completely fell in love with each and honestly didn’t understand why everyone viewed them as fads. For example, I tried SoulCycle in New York last summer, and I can absolutely say that I haven’t experienced a more moving, spiritual, and effective workout in my life. I can’t even explain the feelings of bliss I experienced when walking out of every class drenched in sweat, but I can verify that the ridiculous prices are there for a reason. When I returned to school in Georgia for my senior year, I sadly couldn’t bring SoulCycle with me and instead decided to take on a new fitness venture with yoga!

IMG_1981My TriBeCa SoulCycle studio!

Once again, I fell in love with what yoga had to offer and I still miss the calm and relaxing effects that would last for days after a good yoga session. Just as I felt when parting ways with SoulCycle, I was sad to leave my stress-relieving fitness routine when I graduated and moved to a completely new place and lifestyle last month. So, when deciding on what fitness habit to devote my time (and paychecks) to the other day, I was NOT about to weight my options lightly. I was VERY tempted to return to yoga or even SoulCycle because there are studios not too far away, but I really wanted to try something new and challenging. This is where the idea of barre class came into play. I’d heard a lot of great things about this type of fitness class, but wasn’t truly convinced that the tiny movements involved would actually give me the challenging workout that I wanted.

However, I made a bold decision and booked my first date at Pure Barre for this past Wednesday, on my day off from work. When I walked into the small and clean studio on Wednesday, I was immediately greeted by two lovely employees who then showed me around the studio and prepared me for what my first class would be like, including being given commands that I probably wouldn’t know the meaning of and the importance of wearing sticky socks. After my short prep for the class, I took a seat on the carpeted ground with a stretchy resistance tube, 2-lb. weights, a barre ball, and feelings of confidence about the workout that was about to ensue. To my surprise, after about two minutes into the 55-minute class, I realized that my initial lack of intimidation was about to be completely overthrown. Until that class, I’d never seen my legs, arms, and every other muscle group in my body shake so much…and as you now know, I’ve done my share of crazy fitness classes!

SHP-PureBarre-2The equipment for barre

The barre class began with a fast-paced warm up full of coordinated step-class style moves, followed by sections devoted to the arms, legs, seat (butt), and abs, and ended with a cool down stretching sequence for our tired muscles. We performed a combination of standing, sitting, and bar-based exercises that focused on holding poses for a certain amount of time and repetitions of tiny movements for the specific muscle groups. I never knew that such small moves could create such a burn in my body, but boy was my mind completely changed after that class! I really liked the upbeat music, targeted moves, fast pace, and positivity of the employees who walked around and taught the class, which has made me really excited for my next class! Of course, I’ll need a bit more practice to nail down the movements associated with the barre-specific vocabulary that I was warned about before my first class, but that’s what my next few classes are for, right?!  I hope that this testimony motivates some of you to try out your own barre class if you haven’t already because it’s SUCH a great workout and uplifting routine to get into!

Happy Sunday Everyone!

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GlamGlow Supermud

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A few months ago, I was browsing through my twitter feed and read that one of my favorite beauty idols and TV actresses, Nina Dobrev, uses a facial mask called GlamGlow Supermud regularly to maintain her PERFECT skin, which I’ve always admired. I hadn’t ever really experimented with masks in the past, other than the cheap drugstore ones that we all remember using while playing “beauty salon” as kids, so I was totally down to officially dip my toes into the mask domain if it meant achieving perfect skin like Nina’s. Before diving right into buying this $69 treatment, I made sure to do my research to be certain that it would actually be a worthy purchase. I read over a ton of customer and company reviews of this “supermud,” and soon enough, my Sephora shopping bag was filled with my first “real” mask treatment! When I received my GlamGlow in the mail, I was so excited to try it out that I cleared my schedule for the night to give myself plenty of time to experiment. After opening the small container, I was initially turned off by the dark grey coloring and chunky consistency, but hey, if those chunks of charcoal were there to make my skin glow, I had no reason to change my mind. I spread a thin-ish layer all over my face and watched as the mud dried and darkened over my most problematic and oily areas. After about twenty minutes of letting it soak in and pull the impurities out of my pores, I washed it all off my face and immediately noticed some skin brightening results! My skin was SO smooth and looked much happier in general.

What the “mud” looks like…

in hand

After applying a thin layer (TRY to ignore my wet hair and embarrassing cat-ear headband):

far away face

Letting the drying process begin (notice the specks of charcoal): 

before dried

All dried and ready to rinse off:

dried face

My first positive experience left me excited to continue using the treatment, and I have since been hooked to my first mask purchase! Here are some of the benefits that its company promotes for using this mask:

With six different acne-fighting acids, activated charcoal, clay, and natural ingredients, it works to…

o   restore damaged skin and improve skin texture

o   help de-clog to minimize pores and promote new skin rejuvenation    

o   help pigmentation, moisture, stimulation, and skin collagen

o   help fine lines, wrinkles, and aging skin

o   help effects of scarring and clear skin

o   help fight bacteria and breakouts

o   help calm, soothe, and heal skin

o   etc…

Clearly, there are a lot of benefits to using this mask on a regular basis and I really think that it actually works! I haven’t used it enough to be 100% sure of its effectiveness but so far my results have been awesome! To get your own GlamGlow mud mask, check out the company website or Sephora!

HAPPY FRIDAY Y’ALL!

Taking control of our skin: for now AND the future

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I usually try to avoid discussing depressing or negative topics in this blog, but sometimes bringing up certain topics is just one of those necessary evils that we have to face. When it comes to skin care, I have always been pretty good about wearing sunscreen and especially wearing hats when in the sun because of my tendency to burn and get moles. Also, my skin has ALWAYS been sensitive to the sun, whether it was shown through miserable days of sun poisoning or simply unexpected sunburn when sunscreen was forgotten. However, I have been a teenager AND beach kid, making avoidance of the sun and covering up in the summer months almost impossible. Since I have such a tendency to get moles and freckles after being in the sun, I’ve already been to the dermatologist to get about 5 moles taken off so far… and I’m only 21 years old. Yes, that may seem a bit over the top, but I am always reminding myself that the small and annoying scars resulting from getting a few moles taken off will always be FAR less detrimental than the discovery of skin cancer down the road.  

In the U.S, skin cancer has been on the rise for a long time and its ascent is definitely not stopping anytime soon- especially while we still have tanning beds in every city and continue to glamourize the look of tanned skin in the media. Also, skin cancer is rising not only among the older age groups but also among many young women. It’s frustrating to me that we are still putting ourselves at risk so often, especially while the world is trying so hard to keep us educated about the rise in skin cancer and ways to prevent it. My generation is especially guilty of this negligence because we have the access to so many sources of information and protective measures today, but we are still barely putting them to use! I think that people, especially women my age, simply don’t think that skin cancer is as much of a risk and danger to them as it really is. They’re choosing to ignore the facts and are instead choosing to believe that they won’t get cancer, just because. We need to start taking it seriously and stop believing that we are immune. Also, people today aren’t checking up on their family history, which is another huge factor affecting the development of skin cancer. Ask your family members if they’ve had any form of skin cancer and make sure you let your dermatologist know if anyone has. Also, make sure that you actually go to a dermatologist at least once a year (in my opinion). A tiny mole or even a red spot can end up being cancerous; so don’t think that your “safe-looking” spots are in the clear. I started going to a dermatologist about 4 years ago and you should get on it if you haven’t already started going to your own.

Today, there are so many ways to reduce your risk and even prevent getting skin cancer that it’s truly disappointing how many of us are still using tanning beds and ignoring the rising rates of diagnosis. I know it may seem difficult for many of you to actually WANT to prevent your skin from getting tan and golden, especially when the weather starts getting warm. With the universal belief floating around our culture that being tan is beautiful and healthy, our heads obviously can’t always be in the right place when it comes to sun exposure. However, fair and pale skin is honestly just as (if not more) beautiful and much healthier than tanned skin. Plus, it’s more natural looking and won’t leave you with unsightly wrinkles and loads of sunspots (or cancer) on your body down the road. If you aren’t able to force yourself to embrace your natural skin tone all year round, then there is always the option of using self-tanner, which is amazing nowadays! I use self-tanner quite a bit in the spring and summer months myself, and it truly looks just as natural as a real tan does.

Once you are able to come to terms with the reality that tanned skin doesn’t define beauty, all you have to do to protect yourself is wear sunscreen (and makeup with SPF), wear hats and sunglasses, visit the derm every now and then, and stay educated! There are even various types of food that you can eat to help protect your skin from harmful rays. For example, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark veggies, watermelon, strawberries, kiwis, oranges, almonds, sunflower seeds, apples, green tea, red snapper, and even dark chocolate are able to provide extra armor for your skin from the sun. So, clearly there are many EASY ways that you can start protecting your skin and health today, which is the best time to begin since summer is now in full force!

Protect yourself in the sun like I do- with big sunnies and a hat!

ImageThis is my favorite line of sunscreen and sun protection products- they’re available at Nordstrom!

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