Posts tagged body
Feeling totally exposed even in my own private company

As I sat up in bed, immediately upon waking this morning, I had a sudden urge to grab my phone and take a photo of myself looking in huge mirrored doors of the built in wardrobe that flanks one side of the room.

This isn't a photo for likes or comments, but a representation of how it has shaped me over the last few months, the difference that having a huge mirrored surface opposite the doorway of the bedroom has made in my life.

jo mirror body 2.jpg

For context, I moved into this house in January. It's an eight month house sit for the parents of one of my best friends. It's coming to and end quite soon.

I remember the very first evening I was here. Getting undressed and ready for bed and suddenly seeing my naked body lit up in front of the mirror in the yellowy light of the ceiling lamp.

I remember at the time, I froze momentarily then slightly recoiled. Feeling totally exposed even in my own private company.

I wasn't used to seeing my own body in its 'wholeness' and it caught me by surprise.

That in itself fascinated me. The fact that I'm so used to seeing parts of myself. Fragments at a time. Abstract. In small mirrors in the bedroom or in the bathroom, or when looking down as myself, a distorted world view.

Yet I’d so rarely had the chance to appreciate my full form.

Looking at photos of our whole selves is different, we're posed and poised. Viewed rom a distance on a small on a screen. Clothed.

But here I was. Full on, full out. Unprepared and unposed in all my naked glory, standing opposite myself. Looking myself in the eye. There was no hiding even though that urge rose within me.

The next evening when it happened again. I noticed my resistance. I noticed the surprise. I noticed the feelings of uncertainty and unfamiliarity with my own body. Unfamiliar with the body I'm so used to, the body that I have lived in for 36 years, yet I just never really 'see'.

In all its completeness.

So I got curious. I started turning around in front of the mirror. Looking at myself from as many angles as possible. The light changing and creating pattern and shape rippling over me. Twisting, tensing, flexing, looking at the curves, the folds and muscle tone and observing the wonder of the musculoskeletal system that makes the human form.

What magic!

It became quite a fun game. Creating a sense of familiarity and connection with myself, and in doing so a sense of compassion. And slowly but surely a deeper sense of self love.

Self love.

Not that I'd ever really hated my body, not at all. I simply hadn't ever really appreciated it because I'd never seen it, not really, not like this. I’d been so disconnected from my wholeness. I had no idea what I was missing.

But every single night and every single morning as I got undressed, I had the chance to observe my body in it's naked glory. Those moments became such a celebration. A private moment of connection and respect.

As the days and the weeks and months passed during my time in this house, I learned to celebrate the glory, the fullness and the completeness of my body in a way I'd never previously had an opportunity to, in a way that I'd never even seen as necessary.

I can honesty say it has been a beautiful journey.

So, this morning, when I woke up and sat on the edge of my bed, I suddenly had the spontaneous urge to grab my phone and take a photo. Not for likes, but to record this moment. Record how I feel to be in acceptance and celebration, in fascination and curiosity and at one with my body.

This beautiful, powerful body.

As I shot this photo, I had literally just woken up seconds before. My hair isn't brushed. I have an old T shirt and knickers on. Nothing else. I have bruises on my knees where I fell over. The bed isn't made. The room isn't particularly tidy.

But none of that matters.

Because this isn't for likes. This isn't an ego trip.

This is showing up as me in the moment. The spontaneous, raw, vulnerable, unfiltered beauty of me.

A celebration and a call to love in seeing ourselves. Fully.

Because I want you to see yourself. Fully.

I want you to find a huge mirrored wardrobe of your own and stand naked, to look yourself in the eye and truly see and celebrate the depth and fullness of who you are, because it's glorious. Truly and utterly glorious.

And it might take a while to get comfortable with that. That's ok. Stay with it. Lean into those feelings. Because with repeated exposure and a sense of curiosity, it will come. I promise.

I didn't realise before that I didn't love my body but it's simply because I never truly gave myself a chance to.

I'm giving myself that chance today.


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How I wash my hair now... the 'no-poo' experiment concluded!

Long time readers may remember back in the late springtime I began experimenting with the 'no-poo' method for washing my hair.

Over the last 12 months or so I have been gradually transitioning all of my body products and toiletries to become home-made versions or at least ones that are as pure and simple as possible. This has been pretty successful across-the-board. I have home-made body butter, face cream, cleansing oil, toner, leg shaving oil, body wash and to a large extent I succeeded with toothpaste and deodorants...

HOWEVER I have struggled with the toothpaste tasting nice so for now have resorted to this brand and on the deodorant front, when I am in full on sweaty mode at the gym and need to quickly freshen up I need a spray- the coconut oil homemade paste version doesn't really do the job. Any tips out there for home-made spray deodorant much appreciated, or a really effective natural spray deodorant??

Back to hair!

Shampoo and conditioner was thing that I was most passionate about finding a natural alternative for, yet was also the trickiest. However I committed to the process, so for many long weeks (and months!) my hair was almost constantly in a ponytail as it felt it too heavy and oily to wear down... frustrating!

I was close to giving in so many times!

I think part of the problem is that my hair, whilst not crazy long, is pretty thick, and also I train heavily at the gym and so a lot of the sweat accumulates (nice!) A pretty tough contender for the 'no-poo' method!

I tried the traditional baking soda paste with apple cider vinegar rinse. Loved the ACV but the baking soda didn't feel as though it was getting right into my hair. One of the hardest parts about the baking soda method is the lack of foaming action so hair can typically not feel fully covered.

I then tried another option for a coconut milk combo also using Dr Bronner's Castille soap, this felt great whilst in the shower- it was lovely and foamy and I had high hopes… But once dried, my hair felt extremely heavy and lifeless. Up in a ponytail it went!

I tried each of these methods for a couple of months at a time hoping that my hair was just going through transitional phase, but it wasn't to be....

Then a revelation!

In September I went to the VegFest exhibition in London and got chatting to a couple who run Living Naturally a 'soap nuts' company who also make special soap nuts shampoo bars amongst of home and body products. I was curious and excited, given my pevious frustrations, and asked if I'd be able to review one the bars for my blog. I wanted to try the shampoo bar for at least a month before I came to my verdict my verdict… And the rest is history!  I've been using the bars ever since and I absolutely love them.

PS. I'm not being paid fort this review, I simply loved the product and now having tried other bars in the range and can say they are all fantastic and great company to support too. I really, really encourage those who are contemplating going 'no-poo' and also those who may have tried the baking soda method with undesirable results to give soap nuts a try.

For me the soap nut bar followed with a vinegar rinse (1 tbs ACV to approx 1 1/2 cups warm water) is perfect. I now wash my hair every 5-6 days instead of every 3 days as I had previously done with regular shampoo, it's also the best condition it has ever been in my adult life with no split ends and a real rich auburn colour that's come through, very similar to the colour I had one had as a much younger child....very interesting indeed!

You'll see from the info above that natural soap nut shells are used as a detergent, but as I have only tried the shampoo bars. The Dead Sea shampoo is the first bar I used and now i've tried others too. 

The ingredients are as follows:

Organic Soapnut Liquid (Sapindus Mukorossi), Olive Oil (Olea Europaea), Organic Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera), RSPO Certified Palm Oil ( Elaeis Guineensis ), Castor Oil (Ricinus communis), Dead Sea Mud (Maris Limus), Almond Oil (Prunus Dulcis), Rice Bran Oil ( Oryza Sativa), Jojoba Oil (Buxus Chinensis), Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula Angustifolia ), Rosemary Essential Oil (Rosmarinus Officinalis), Cedarwood Essential Oil (Thuja orientalis ), Cypress Essential Oil (Cupressus Sempervirens ) Linalool*, Limonene*, Geraniol. *occurs naturally in essential oils

I couldn't get a good picture of the lather but it's lathers up like a bar of soap and really gets into the hair and scalp well.

I guess I should have given you a picture of my hair before and after the experiment.... oops should have planned that better! :-)  You'll just have to take my word for it!

The shampoo bars even work well when I have covered my hair in an argan oil mask which I usually do once a month. In this case I typically wash through twice before the ACV rinse.

 

Note: Based on my experiences with the whole 'no-poo' transition, I read countless blogs and articles on the subject and what seems to work well for one person may work terribly for another. So you may find, depending on your hair type and thickness, that these bars don't work as well for you, and that the baking soda method is perfec. It's all a process of discovery but I really encourage you to experiment in getting away from the chemical laden body products...your hair and body will really thank you for it!!

A few resources I found useful in my searching...

Coconut milk and castille no-poo (I wasn't a fan but you might be)

One Year without Shampoo (plus interesting toxic ratings)

The No Poo Method (pretty much everything no-poo related!)

Honey Shampoo (a none vegan recipe)


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DIY 'Body Food' ...The Intro!

Over the last few months I have been becoming more intrigued with natural body products. A recent question put to my Facebook followers indicated that you were interested in more 'body product' posts from me so here you go! P.s feel free to follow my 'body food' board on Pinterest.

You've seen my original body whip here that is still one of my absolute favourite products, one I now regularly make for friends and clients also. Then on Tuesday you saw my body butter bars which were a similar concept but with a different ingredient ratio to create a solid product.

body whip

body whip

body butter bars

body butter bars

It just seems to me that if I am so keen to put good food in my body, it makes sense to also put good food on my body! 

The more I explored body products and the amount of chemicals in commercial products, the more intent I became on finding a way to make all the basics myself. Of course there are some very good natural organic brands which cut many of the chemicals out, but these are often very expensive and since I love the notion of simplicity, the idea of making my own products with a minimal number of 'real food' ingredients and much less cost really appealed to me.

A gift box of products made for a friend with a new baby.

A gift box of products made for a friend with a new baby.

So far I have pretty much mastered these aspects of my body care routine and I will share these with you (and more as I develop them) in a series of 'Body Food' posts over coming weeks...keep a eye out for them!

  • body whip (as per link above)

  • body butter bars (as per link above)

  • face cream

  • face cleanser

  • face masks

  • face toner

  • hair mask

  • bath treatments

  • shower cream

  • toothpaste

  • deodorant (cream version, a spray still eludes me)

I will make an important note that what works well for me, might not necessarily work as well for you, as we each have unique skin types so some experimentation will be necessary on your part, but that is part of the fun in becoming more in tune with your body. Not all of the above products are actual recipes, for example the face cream is simply virgin cold pressed coconut oil which is what I've found works best for me (I have fairly dry skin) but I appreciate that for some people this will feel too greasy. Often it is the approach and method of doing things that are just as important as what the products used are.

One of the final things I still want to master is shampoo and conditioner.  I've been trying the 'no-poo' method now  (using a few different baking soda and vinegar combos) for 2 months... I'm currently battling the awkward transition stage where hair feels heavy and a bit yuk. I promise to write a proper review of that in a couple of weeks or so once my hair has (hopefully) got over that stage. Fingers crossed...this has been the trickiest body product yet but I am determined!! Worst case scenario this will be the one aspect of my routine where a high quality natural brand will have to factor in. That's ok, it's all about exploring the options.

The other two beauty products I am keen to find a recipe for are a spray deodorant- at the moment I only have a cream version, which is great when first out of the shower but not so effective or desirable when you are already a bit sweaty and just need to freshen up midway through the day or after a gym class.  I also want to create sun cream, now we are heading out of summer this is not such a priority for me but will be ready for when next time summer comes around!

I have also dabbled in making my own make up, I don't usually wear a lot of make up anyway, and I think I'll look into this in more detail once I've sussed out the basic body products. For now I try to buy the most natural products I can find.

Resources:

As a little resource centre for you, here are some great websites I have found myself coming back to again and again during the process of my experimentation over the last few months. Please feel free to share your own resources, recipes and ideas in the comments too!

Wellness Mama (my personal favourite go-to resource I use on many occasions) 

The Happy Skin Diary

Crunchy Betty

The Beauty Bean

The Crunchy Moose

Pioneer Thinking

Obviously another great go-to is Pinterest... I've started a 'body food' board so feel free to follow me! 

One final note!

Please let me know if you want to see more of this kind of thing... my blog has morphed into a 'wellness' hub and not simply focussed on recipes over the last year as I've taking my heath coaching and personal 'self care' to the next level, and whilst this feels right for me I also want to know what you think, what resonates with you and what you want to see more of around here! 

 

 I'd love you to join me in other places too!  

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers  plus me FREE ebook. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  Day to day you can always find me in these places:

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Citrus body butter bars

A part of the collection of products Steenbergs Organic sent me to play with, I received dried lemon peel and their orange blossom water extract. I often use essential oils in body products but figured this would be a good opportunity to use a little bit of the orange blossom water instead.

I loved the idea of using the lemon peel to create a pretty looking body bar, as well as create a little texture as a slightly rough surface for the skin. It is of course optional and you could create a similar effect with other products of simply omit completely. One other idea I'd had was to use dried aduki beans... like this Lush bar, to give a smoother massage surface and funky appearance. I'll try that another time!

I made mini bars this time using mini silicone muffin cups. The great thing about the mini versions is that they make great 'single shots' for a bath. Since I am trying to dedicate my Sunday's as my pampering self care day, these are perfect and I find that they give my skin a totally moisturised feel once out of the bath and also create the leg perfect shaving conditions whilst in ...just saying' :-)

You can of of course using other extracts/essential oils and textures but the citrus vibe worked really well here and was a great non-food use for some of the beautiful Steenbergs products.

Don't forget to enter the Steenbergs Organic giveaway here!

Recipe: Citrus body butter bars

Makes approx. 6 larger bars or 12 mini ones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cocoa butter

  • ½ cup sweet almond oil

  • 1-2 tsp Steenbergs orange blossom extract

  • 2-3 tbs Steenbergs lemon peel

Method

Blitz the cocoa butter in to small pieces (for a faster melting process). Add the cocoa butter, almond oil and orange extract to a bowl set over boiling water until fully melted. 

Sprinkle an equal amount of the dried lemon peel into the bottom of silicone muffins cups (either mini cups or larger sized) and slowly pour the melted cocoa butter mixture over the top.

Allow the bars to set overnight (or speed the process up in the fridge. The bars will be fine stored at room temperature unless it is a very hot day when they may risk getting a little soft.

I actually used a little more cocoa butter and a little less sweet almond oil than shown in this photo!

I actually used a little more cocoa butter and a little less sweet almond oil than shown in this photo!

Some in and some out of the cups!

Some in and some out of the cups!

 I'd love you to join me in other places too!  

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers  plus me FREE ebook. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  Day to day you can always find me in these places:

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