Shark Week Can Be Fun Again…Kinda. Thanks U By Kotex!

Because I’m all about keepin’ it real up in here, you should know that this is a sponsored post for U by Kotex, who provided me products to review. You can get a free sample from U by Kotex too here and Do the Demo.

Now. Who’s ready for some TMI? You know I am. I stay in the TMI Lane. As lady people, we shouldn’t be so secretive about the things that so many of us deal with. And let’s face it, we’ve all dealt with our cycle at some point in our lives. It’s been about 16 years since Aunt Flow has made herself a regular visitor. And I hate her. I really do. But she’s a necessary evil and so while I cringe at her every appearance, I have come across ways that make dealing her, well…easier.

U by Kotex box

Through Socialstars I had the opportunity to test some of these U By Kotex products and at first I was like “Oh snap…my menstrual cup lovin’ friends are so going to disown me.” Yes, I do proudly roll with the cup crew but honey, I’m a girl who likes options. And no one likes to be unprepared when their cycle decides to make their first appearance after 21 months of being ghost (thanks pregnancy and breastfeeding!). And said cycle comes when you are out of town. Oh yes, girl. This happened to me. And I wish I would have these U by Kotex CleanWear pads on hand.

U by Kotex

First of all, can we talk about the pretty packaging? “B, who cares if they’re pretty. They’re sanitary napkins!” Look. There ain’t anything pretty about Shark Week. But U By Kotex is trying to lighten the horror a bit with colorful wrapping and decorated pads.

Kotex packaging

And, I for one, can appreciate this. In fact, how I’ll go back to regular plain pads is beyond me. It was as if U By Kotex sat down and said “Hmm…how can we make this awful time of the month just a little better?” And while they aren’t able to make the cramps and bloat feeling disappear, they can at least bring a smile on my face when I open up these pretty pads.

Kotex napkin

Just, wow…

And they aren’t just pretty to look at. Without getting too graphic (calm down…I won’t put it ALL out there), I love how the U by Kotex Barely There Thin Liners don’t leak. They just don’t. Also, the adhesive has a nice and firm stick and you can ensure that it’ll last for as long as you need it to.

Kotex tampons

Colorful pads with pretty packing and housed in a slick and sexy black box? Well done. U By Kotex gave us something that we didn’t even know we needed. And I love it. Now if only they can think of a way to get rid of that “Give me all of the sweets and leave me alone for the next 3 days” feeling…

 

I wrote this review while participating in a content series through Crowdtap on behalf of U by Kotex, and received products to facilitate my post and compensation for my time to participate. But y’all know me. I don’t mind writing about this kind of stuff for free because, well, uh…I have before!

So About That 5K That I Ran…

…I ran it! And it was awesome. Seriously. I had such an incredible time running that race. And this is all kind of crazy, because, hello…I’m not the running  type.

Granted, runners don’t have a “type” but I don’t think I have the outwardly appearance of someone who could run. I’ve got awkward flat feet. My thighs rub together. I’ve got ginormous boobs that have to get tied down with TWO bras and I when I run, I breathe heavily; I don’t have a breathless stride with brief puffs of air. But you know what?

I don’t even care. Because at least I’m running. I wasn’t running last year so I try to provide myself with plenty of “You go girl”s.

Clumps of Mascara 5K

My first post-baby 5K was excellent – mainly because I didn’t have a goal. Well, I take that back. My goal was to complete. And I did. I ran with a girlfriend of mine and we decided to do 1-minute run/1-minute walk intervals the entire way. This was great for me as I was able  to control my breathing better and looked forward to the breaks. At the end of each break, I mustered up everything in me to run. My stride could use some work, but I think that’s because I need new shoes.

Run a 5K

But I won’t be getting new shoes until I run another race. That’s right, at the end of every race, I reward myself with something. At the end of this one, I got a heart rate monitor watch. And I’m loving it! I’m just getting back in town from NYC and haven’t run all week (except during work when I got caught in a rain storm and got SOAKED) but I am so looking forward to it this weekend.

I’ve got another 5K at the end of March and that will be another fun run except I think I’m going do run 2-minutes/walk -minute intervals. By Spring, I would love to be able to run an entire 5K without stopping. I’ve found fantastic support in my local Black Girls Run group and between them and the local running stores in Orlando, I’ve been feeling the love.

Nike + Running Stats

I’ll keep you guys updated! Oh, and I’ve lost a total of 6 lbs with Weight Watchers. Totally thought I would have lost more but I have lost 3 inches on my waistline so heyyyyy…progress is good, right?

The Time I Made A Mold Of My Teeth…

Smile Brilliant Whitening System

I’ve been crazy excited about sharing this with y’all. I’ve always been pretty serious about dental health but lately, I’ve gotten a bit well, uh…lazy. I glanced at myself in the mirror some months back, noticed that my usually pretty white smile was just a wee bit dull. Smile Brilliant reached out to me at the perfect time. I got the opportunity to get a custom made tooth mold!

Wait. Did that sound crazy? Because, I felt a bit crazy typing it. By tooth mold I meant “custom fitted whitening trays”. Smile Brilliant offers several products but I think their real claim to fame has got to be these things…

Teeth whitening trays

Because where else can you find a brand that goes as far as to create a whitening tray for you? It really is the coolest thing. And relatively easy too. You spend spend a few minutes playing scientist, mix some clay, pop ’em in the tray, pop the tray in your mouth, get the mold and mail the mold to Smile Brilliant. In less than 2 weeks, you’ll get your trays back and boom, you’re ready to get to whitening.

Custom fitted teeth whitening trays

Quick disclaimer, I have had serious issues with whitening products in the past. How do I put this gently? Um…THEY HURT! I’m talkin’ I’d rather have a migraine-kinda hurt. I’ve sworn off of all whitening products but what made me open up to Smile Brilliant is the fact that they have Desensitizing Gel. That’s right. A good 15 minutes before application, I can simply use the Desensitizing Gel ahead of time and not have to worry about the pain that comes from teeth whitening.

Also, like a bad blogger, I didn’t take before photos. Grrrrr.

Smile Brilliant teeth whitening

How do the molds feel?
Pretty cool, actually. I found them to be  comfortable. I was able to talk with them. Ideally, I think they’d be best to use while sleeping, but if you HAD to use them while awake, chances are people will understand what you’re saying.

Who are these for?
Anyone with teeth! Seriously. Thanks to genetics and my distaste for coffee, for the most part, my teeth stay pretty white. Overtime, I know that they will dull up a bit and so Smile Brilliant is coming in handy for occasion touch-ups. It is also fantastic for those with yellowing and stained teeth. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

Does this kit actually work?
YES! While difficult to notice in my pictures, despite my aggressive flossing (haha, sounds like a band name), I can’t seem to whiten up the area between my 2 bottom teeth. Until now. After 2 treatments the Smile Brilliant trays completely whitened up the teeth. Woot!

Okay, B. Sounds good. Is this affordable?
Compared to what your dentist will charge you, this kit is definitely affordable. Keep in mind that it is an investment and getting a mold made ensures that you will be able to use it time after time. The mold plus 1 syringe of whitening gel with run you $89. One syringe will only get you 3 treatments, so I highly recommend getting 6 syringes for $129. Still not bad considering getting this professionally done can cost almost 3x as much.

What is the whitening gel made from?
It is dentist-strength 22% Carbamide Peroxide and comes in 3ml syringes.

Whitening gel

I’m a fan and I’m thinking about gifting Esposo with some Smile Brilliant goodies? That isn’t bad, is it? Gifting your husband with teeth whitening goodies? Ah well. I am very excited to see what other cool things Smile Brilliant launches in the future. I love brands that stay above the trends.

Smile Brilliant trays

What do you think? Would you ever try something like this?

Weight Watcher’s Simple Start…I’m ready!

Well, here we are again. This is my second attempt at trying Weight Watchers. Attempting to start a weight loss plan 6 months after a baby just wasn’t ideal for me. I was trying to get into the groove of going back to work and breastfeeding had my hormones doing crazy thangs. But now, I’m weaning from the pump, and I’m ready!

Through Socialstars, I was given the opportunity to try  Weight Watcher’s Simple Start plan and I couldn’t be more excited. Nervous? Well, yeah. I don’t want to fail again. I want to be successful. I want to be one of those women who when I tell you I lost 50 lbs, you look at me in amazement. I want be an inspiration to others.

And uh…excuse my vanity a bit, but seriously…I NEED to drop this post-baby weight. Not because I’m in 2 weddings this year. Not because I feel so uncomfortable in my skin but because I’ve got a little one who is becoming more observant.

#Simple Start weight loss

A great deal of parenting is leading by example and now that Elle is eating food, I want to make healthy choices for the both of us. It just makes sense.

And I want to feel confident again.

I always joke that red lipstick is confidence in a tube, but I truly feel confident when I am happy in my skin. Lately, I haven’t been happy. I can acknowledge this with ease because I know that the real work comes with FIXING this problem. And I can do it because I’m ready to love my body again. Ultimately!

Weight Watchers #SimpleStart challenge

So about this Simple Start deal… My Mom was the first to tell me about Simple Start and I think it’s a fantastic idea for those new to Weight Watchers. Starting any lifestyle change is challenging but Simple Start allows you to sloooooowly make your way into to selecting healthier food options. It takes the guesswork out of what many people find challenging…finding eating healthy meals to eat. And the best part? I don’t have to worry about portion sizes just yet. I just use the app, select menu options, make it and boom…eat it. The menu choices can be as easy as grilled chicken on top of a salad to as gourmet as pasta primavera. And if you’re like me and your chef of a husband is working late and you’re too lazy to do something fancy, you can build your own meal from their options. Like a spinach and tomato omelette.

Weight Watchers #SimpleStart

Cool, huh? Simple Start will last for  2 weeks and then I’ll continue on with the regular Weight Watchers program. I like the ideal of taking baby steps. Jumping right into Weight Watchers with the point counting can be a bit daunting so I really appreciate the flexibility that Simple Start provides.

Wish me luck! I can be pretty hard on myself so I REALLY want to succeed this time. If you’ve got any tips, thoughts or advice for me, let me know. I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

 

 

I was given a free one month subscription to Weight Watchers to try their new Simple Start plan and write about my experience. Though I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own.

Weight Watchers, here I come!

clumps does ww

Guess who joined Weight Watchers?! Meeee! And the cool thing is, I’ll be blogging about my experience the entire time. I actually started last week but that was more of a dry run. It was hard, y’all. I’ve been on many weight loss challenges before and this is proving to be the most difficult because I am a breastfeeding mother. I express on average 60-70 oz of breast milk (through a breast pump) a day and aside from it being draining, it makes me incredibly ravenous. Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories and in return, moms HAVE to steadily nourish themselves. Weight Watchers is the only weight loss program that I’ve ever heard of that actually has a track for nursing moms.

I actually gained a pound from last week. Opps! I’m not worried. There will be up’s and down’s and I’m ready for ’em. I will even unveil my current size and where I’m looking to go.

So I’m 213 lbs. This is NOT baby weight as I was actually 216 before I gave birth to Elle. I only gained 9 lbs during my pregnancy and quickly lost it all. I am not embarrassed at being 5’6 and 213. Is it an ideal weight? No. But is it fixable? Absolutely. I am human and of course I have insecurities but I have always felt that I looked like I weigh less than I do. I toggle between a size 12/14 but I just happen to have a solid build. I will never be a small girl because I’m an amazon woman. I’ve got big thighs and legs and so when it comes to loosing weight, I like to set realistic goals for myself. I recently had a physical at my midwife’s office and my BP and cholestrol numbers are in healthy ranges, so really it’s just my weight that’s an issue. I have no intentions of being a size 2 and I don’t think my body would let me be a size 2 anyway.  But weighing less would put me in healthier ranges and in a happier disposition so I’m all for it!

This will be the biggest weight loss challenge yet. Trying to find the time to workout, battling the cravings and trying to stay satiated through breastfeeding will be tough but I can do it! I will also be giving you the ins and outs of the very cool Weight Watchers online program. Stay tuned for next week’s update!

Got any healthy snack or workout tips for me? Moms who have breastfed and tried to loose weight, I would love some advice from you!

 

*I have received a free 3-month pass to experience Weight Watchers online. I am not being paid to use or endorse Weight Watchers and thoughts are my own. People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

A Green Smoothie series on Clumps? Whatcha think?

Greeeen smoothies. They are no strangers to Clumps of Mascara. I am forever tweeting about these glorious beverages. And when I’m not tweeting about them, I’m encouraging people to drink them. I could very well be a Green Smoothie Ambassador. If such a thing existed.

Actually, it does now. I just made it up. Yeeeep!

As your resident Green Smoothie Ambassador, I think I’m going to start blogging more about the green smoothie recipes I’m whipping up. Whatcha think? I get SO many questions about ’em (most of which I covered here) and instead of being redundant, how about I do weekly posts on ’em? Or maybe bi-weekly?

In addition to posting recipes, I’ll be sure to provide alternatives. I only drink dairy-free (with the exception of Greek yogurt sometimes) smoothies but I know some of y’all don’t mind cow’s milk. Also, keep in mind that these recipes are from a result of my own experimenting. Unless otherwise noted. You may or may not receive the same results.

The above smoothie was one that a whipped up a few days ago. I knew that I was going to have a serious day at the gym the next morning and wanted a smoothie that was filling and gave me protein. And sooooooo here’s what I mixed up.

-A handful of kale
-1 cup of coconut milk
-1/4 cup of almond milk
-A few ice cubes
-1 cup of fresh strawberries
-1 package of Chobani yogurt (vanilla)
-1 small banana
-2 tablespoons of honey
-Dash of ginger

This smoothie was deliciousssss. Some of my Instagram friends give me some recs for protein powders and I’m going to pick some up this week. My workouts are become more and more intense and I’m going to need as much protein as I can get.

Yay for green smoothies!

 

TMI Tuesday: My weight and my insecurities

 Ugh. Calories annoy me. Seriously. Why do they have to be in EVERYTHING? Calories should really only be in things  that I can’t stand. Like pickles and olives. Yes, I’m beginning a post complaining. My bad, y’all. But what can I say? Talking about my weight kinda makes me sad. Because here’s the truth….

I will always be “watching my weight.” Yep. I am a beauty blogger and I am not ashamed to admit that I have my share of insecurities. And most of them deal with my weight.

I’ve been watching my weight for as long as I can remember. It comes in spurts. I’ll go months with being obsessed with working out and eating. Something will happen and the next thing I know, I’ve gained all of the weight I lost. It’s a tiresome cycle. But it’s one that I will be dealing with for the rest of my life. And it’s not for the shallow reasons like wanting to fit into a bikini (pshht, never happening) or trying to look “good” for someone. My health will always be an issue for me because I’ve got to keep a close eyes on my reoccurring high blood pressure. It’s stressful, y’all.

Most of last year was my “down” year. I worked out a bit but not as much as I should have. I would go weeks between running or heading to the gym. I’d tell myself that I was too busy or too tired. And because of that, I gained a whooping 20 lbs. My size 12’s got tight and I was forced into a 14. I would see a developing double chin in the mirror and that alone prevented me from doing as many YouTube videos as I should have been doing. Self-loathing ensued; an emotion that I always deal with when I notice myself gaining weight.

In the Fall of last year, I got serious about my weight loss again and so I’ve been actively going to the gym (3-6 times a week) and doing what I have to do to get back in those 12’s. I’m getting there. And I have to remember that I am human. We all backslide from time to time and I can’t always fall into these depressive slumps when I realize that I’ve gained a pound here or there.

Keeping an eye on my weight is a lifestyle for me. I can’t just eat a breadstick without knowing that I’ll HAVE to work out the next day. Yes, I’ll eat my favorite ginger snaps, but never in peace. For I know that unless I work those cookies off, the pounds will pile up. This is my life. This is the way it has to be.

I’ll never be skinny. And I’m okay with that. I don’t mind that my thighs rub together or that my DD’s require my having to wear TWO bras when I work out. I don’t hate my body. But do I want to be in optimal health so that I can be around to keep bringin’ y’all mascara reviews in 2045? Hells yah.

I know weight is a sensitive topic for most of us women. Some of us want smaller boobs. Others want bigger boobs.  Some say they’re too skinny. Others long to be skinny. Mommas feel some kind of way about their post-pregnancy bodies and many of us fall victim to the lies society tells us. Is it important to be healthy? Absolutely.

But do you have to be a size 2, 4 or 6 to be healthy and beautiful. Absolutely not.

What say you? Are you happy with you weight? Or will it always be a struggle for you too?

TMI Tuesday: Raising vegetarian children.

So I’ve been getting a lot of TMI Tuesday suggestions that involve something I have zero experience in. Raising kids. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I know how to change a diaper, hold a newborn correctly and can entertain toddlers into sugar-free naps. And while Clumps will never morph into a Mommy blog when I do have kids, I still love featuring Mommy-baby  topics because there are so mommies out there.

Plus, the more I learn from your mommies, the less of a screw up parent I will be. 😀

Okay, no. I’m kidding. My kids will be freaking awesome having a beauty bloggin’ rockstar as a Mom and a musical computer geek as their Dad. But this post isn’t about my uterus and its production of bebes. This post is about a penny pinchin’ Mommy (and also one of my BFFs!) and her mission to provide her 13 month old daughter and 3-year old son with nourishing food.

Gaetane recently launched her blog Seeds of Mommy Soul. Show her some love and tell her B sent you!

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On Tuesday, I finally decided to buy a few grocery items for the kids. I simply do not like grocery shopping, especially with my two handfuls of children. Now that my daughter is mobile, she has a major issue with anyone trying to hold her hand in public. Little did they know, I had a plan AND I was sticking to it.

I buckled them into the double shopping cart of Target (which I love by the way) and after 1.5 hours we accomplished our mission. Being that we are a vegetarian-based household, we are limited (surprisingly, huh?) on organic vegetarian foods. Don’t get me wrong, I do have my cravings for fatty foods like Burger King fries but we limit on what we buy in our household. Our children have a right to a healthy lifestyle. The kids are only accustomed to eating a very wide range of hearty vegetarian dishes and because they are kids, they are now asking for sweets and snacks. My son verbalizes and my daughter always simply wants what her older brother is having.

Addaeyomi and Anaiziya’s top 5 snacks:

*Archer Farm’s blue corn tortilla chips and salsa dip
*Earth’s Best baby food
*Simply Lemonade
*Honest Kids juice packs
*Archer Farms Strawberry fruit strips

You may have noticed the picture of the Ackee. Well, it was on sale and I simply love Ackee.

All these items were on sale and/or I used coupons for greater savings. Even if they were not on sale I would still purchase these items because my children love them. I do believe children should be children and enjoy eating snacks. On the other hand, I do not believe we should drown our children in unhealthy eating habits that will affect them in the future.

We as parents, care givers, aunts, uncles, and even friends should make sure that we educate our children on healthy eating habits. We cannot expect our children to eat healthy if we are not reflecting that as well. So next time you go grocery shopping, and your children are screaming at the top of their lungs for candy, look to the fruit strips as an alternate. It’s just as flavorful and is better for them.

Check out more of Gaetane’s parenting musings over at her blog Seeds of Mommy Soul. And if any of your mommies (or daddies) out there would like to submit hilarious stories, adorable pictures or shocking parenting revelations to Clumps, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at Brittany@ClumpsOfMascara.com.

What are your thoughts on raising vegetarian or vegan kiddies?