It started because I had an appointment with my chiropractor in early December. I hadn’t been in to see him since a few days before I had Sylvia, so I was in serious need of an adjustment. The point was brought up that I really needed to take better care of myself, because as the mom, if I fall apart, the whole family suffers. I drove home in a sort of stupor. My mother died far too young from a chronic illness that brought a lot of pain to my family. Suddenly, it seemed that although I had gotten myself back on track through the October Unprocessed Challenge, I just wasn’t where I needed to be. I’m an all or nothing sort of person, so picking one area of my life to change isn’t easy for me.
I decided to change 3 things in my life: my shampoo, my makeup and my diet. I was about out of shampoo and foundation, so I wasn’t going to be wasting anything. I hate waste. I used be a vegetarian, so this change wasn’t going to be as hard as it was going to be an exercise in flexibility. My husband and son weren’t really on board with the elimination of meat, specifically beef. In the end, I decided that for myself, I’d only eat meat at supper when the rest of the family was eating, unless I had already planned a vegetarian meal.
Shampoo was the first experiment since I got to that one right away. I decided that as this was such a major change since our hair and scalps would need to acclimate, I would allow 2-3 weeks for the experiment. I checked out a post on The Crunchy Chicken and in reading through the comments, discovered that Deanna suggested trying shampoo bars from a company located about an hour away from my home. Thrilled, I perused the website and was even more delighted to note that they offered samples of the bars so one can determine which formula is the best suited for them. I ordered 2 kinds and sat back to wait. In the meantime, I used my children’s shampoo from Burt’s Bees since I had had to stop using the shampoo my husband used because in November, I suddenly developed a rash around my hairline after my showers. The shampoo bars arrived in the mail a few days later and I eagerly tore into them. Honestly, I debated whether or not I should just hop in the shower again so I could wash my hair right away. I controlled myself and waited until the next day. When it came down to it, washing my hair with the shampoo bar was… odd. It lathered nicely, but my hair felt so strange. I couldn’t run my fingers through it, with the hair slipping easily through. Instead, it felt squeaky and thick. I let my hair air dry and couldn’t keep my hands out of it. It felt thick and fluffy and just plain healthy. I only tried the one type of shampoo bar, since it was working and I didn’t want to add another variable into my experiment. My husband tried both bars willy-nilly.
For about 3 days, there was a honeymoon period. I loved my hair. I loved that it wasn’t stripped of all the goodness and I wasn’t piling chemicals on my head every morning. Then, I realized that my scalp was peeling all over the place. Not like dandruff, but like I had a bad sunburn. It was awful. Bits of my scalp were everywhere. For years, I’d washed my hair with the same industrial strength dandruff shampoo my husband used, conditioned it and went on my merry way. I had no idea the damage I was doing to my scalp and the dependence my scalp was developing on the chemicals. I talked to a friend who also used a shampoo bar and did some research online and came up with a solution. Mixing together sea salt, tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar I made an exfolliant for my scalp that would not only scrub the scalp, but also aid in the healing process while my skin adjusted to not being bombarded with chemicals. Finally, I added a vinegar rinse to condition my hair. The day I added these products, my hair was back to being the way I remember it as a child. Thick, curly and soft. As long as I maintain these steps, which take all of 45 seconds, I’m pleased with my hair and scalp. By the end of week 2, I was (and still am) convinced to keep the shampoo bars in our shower. I’ve never tried the second kind I bought. In this case, I found something that worked and I’m happy!
My husband’s hair? I have bought that man serious dandruff shampoo for years. I’ve tried natural shampoos, but nothing seemed to work for him. I was so wrapped up in my own hair issues that I totally forgot to check in with him and see how things were going until almost a week after we had started. He reported that he liked both bars of soap, except that since I tend to actually rub the bar on my head it had hair woven into the soap. His complaint was that everywhere he turns, my hair is there. What he didn’t complain about, though, was his scalp. Suddenly, after years of him struggling with a flaking scalp, it was clear. No more flaking. No more itching. Wow.
Next up was my makeup. Since the foundation was gone, I ordered new from HoneyBee Gardens. Abbie at the Farmer’s Daughter had mentioned it a while ago in a blog post about her beauty product choices. I ordered the powdered formula and was very excited to see it arrive in the mail. It’s the same basic concept as Clinique’s Almost Powder Makeup which I had used in the past. I’ve tried using natural products in the past and was always put off by cost, texture or a distinct herbal smell. With this, I smelled nothing. The texture was one I had used in the past and paid nearly double for. I also added in the mascara since that week my suddenly began to burn whenever I put on what I had in my makeup bag. Now, I smell honey whenever I put my mascara on. My attempt to change the products in my makeup bag was a simple, painless change.
The diet was a much greater challenge than I had imagined. I was a vegetarian from the time I was 9 all the way until I got married at age 24. Every now and then, I’d have meat in college, but for the most part, I stuck with my vegetables. I know how to meal plan as a vegetarian, I know how to grocery shop. This experience for me, opened my eyes to the staples I grew up with in my cupboards that no longer took up residence in my own. For instance, I am currently craving an Indian side dish comprised mainly of Dal. I have no idea where to purchase this in my town. My parents belonged to a food co-op. I don’t. Aside from the cupboard challenges, I realized that I needed to plan a little better so lunch wasn’t goldfish crackers and apples. And I need to expand my protein sources. I know I used to live on beans, eggs and cheese, but it’s taking longer than 2 weeks to get my digestive system back in order. I checked a few books out from the library and am still working my way through them. Since I’m still nursing, I am relearning some things concerning protein intakes. The biggest lesson I’ve learned by changing my diet is that breakfast is absolutely essential. Since I’m not eating a turkey sandwich after Sylvi’s 330am feeding on a regular basis, I can no longer justify coffee only until lunch. Breakfast has changed my life. Even just a bowl of Cheerios has an impact on how my day goes. I have decided that while I won’t be returning to a vegetarian lifestyle, I am going to keep up with the general idea of my experiment. Since the food I’ve been eating isn’t as heavy, I need to be a little more mindful about what and when I’m eating. I’m still working out the details, but I’m enjoying trying new recipes and tinkering in the kitchen.
All in all, I’m glad there was the challenge to experiment since that challenge helped me to have a reason to try the shampoo bars and makeup. And once I got to thinking about how I was changing these things on the outside of my body, it wouldn’t hurt to make a greater effort with what I was putting in my body. I’ve made a decision that I need to take better care of myself and in order to do that, little steps needed to happen. The reason why I rarely change course from the normal is because I hate the experimentation. I don’t like to set up an experiment and then not have a successful outcome. I was a little anxious starting these experiments. To tell the truth, I didn’t leave my house for the first 3 days of the shampoo and makeup. I already am a mother of small children and look like it. I didn’t want my hair to add any more fodder to the thought that I don’t take care of myself as well as I should. As a final result of this experiment, I’ve decided to keep the shampoo and makeup, be flexible with my diet and add in regular sessions of yoga to help strengthen my back. I’m anxious to continue these changes in the new year and make even more as I seek to eliminate the toxins in our home, plant our first garden at this home and expand my culinary skills!