Break Up with Sugar

Last weekend I went to Pop Physique’s nutrition talk with Miriam Jacobson, a registered dietician. The talk was mainly about sugar and why we eat so much of it–here’s what I learned:

Our sugar addiction is mostly related to our emotional health–it’s a behavioral response.

What is sugar?
Bread. Quinoa. Squash. Sweet potatoes. Legumes. Edamame. Black beans–all in addition to those small packets of sugar found at every coffeeshop, fruit, and of course–candy and donuts.

Eating legumes is better than eating a donut because it takes the body longer to break down and doesn’t cause as much of a spike in blood sugar (which can lead to weight gain). After eating a donut you have a blood sugar spike and then a dip. This is when we crave more sugar–which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Our bodies need sugar but when there’s this dip in blood sugar, we go for the crappy/unhealthy sugar options.

Carbohydrates
A diet that’s high in refined carbohydrates causes your body to crave more sugar. When you choose to eat more simple carbs, it actually takes nutrients to process the carbs. When you eat a piece of white bread, your body needs to use chromium to metabolize that white bread. And when you have a chromium deficiency you crave more sugar. It’s a vicious cycle.

Protein
Protein causes us to be satiated. Not having enough protein with every meal leads to sugar cravings. Eating it in the morning is essential because it helps prevent that 3pm sugar crash (have 12-15 grams for breakfast e.g. 2 eggs or a protein shake). It helps stabilize that blood sugar response. Protein in combination with carbs such as legumes and sweet potatoes makes us feel more energized and mentally acute.

Fake Sugars
Sugar alcohols make our bodies crave more sugar because they create a false response. Our bodies/brain expect a sugar high that it doesn’t get–so it secretes hormones that causes us to crave more sugar. These fake sugars are often 600x sweeter than actual sugar so they desensitizes our taste buds and train our bodies to crave more sweet things.

Stevia
When it comes to stevia, look at how you’re using it. If you feel like you need it, then cut back.

Candida
Candida is a yeast and a fungus that grows inside all of us (it decomposes our bodies when we die). It’s opportunistic–when we have a bad diet, when we’re stressed out or on antibiotics–it tends to over grow. Since it feeds off of sugar, it causes us to crave more. It also feeds off of alcohol and stress. An overgrowth can create a lot of havoc in our bodies–bloating, digestive pain, reflux, brain fog, joint pain, yeast infections, etc.

It’s a conditioned response.
We train our bodies to crave it. For example, “Every day after lunch, I’m going to have some chocolate.” The anticipation of enjoying the sugar is more rewarding and satisfying than the fleeting moment of the dopamine hit. It hits and then goes away.

Sugar is rewarding and has a big effect on our brain health–it is classified as a drug. In studies with mice, they will choose sugar over cocaine–that’s how addictive it is. Sugar secretes endorphins and dopamine (FYI–working out also secretes endorphins) which makes us feel really good. When we’re sad it’s an easy pick me up.

The hit needs to become bigger over time–it’s like a drug. The receptors in our brain start to desensitize so you need to eat more sugar to get the same pleasurable response that you had, for example, the day before.

How are you using it?
You have control over your diet. “Is this what I want to be eating right now? Or is my body addicted to it?” Build awareness. Look at your food with the question: “Is this nutrients or anti-nutrients?” “Am I really hungry or just bored at my job? Stressed?” Is it habit or is something more emotional going on? You have to step back and ask yourself these questions and then choose a better option like meditation, taking a walk, listening to music, etc. Separate from the world a little and process that stress.

What do we do?

Diet
A diet that’s high in starch causes our body to crave more sugar because of the blood sugar response. Think about a plate as your hands put together and one palm should be a piece of protein. For example, pasture raised eggs. It’s important to look at where your food comes from. If your food was fed corn and grains, it’ll lead to inflammation (this inflammation will manifest as a digestive imbalance, joint pain, foggy brain or it might even be silent). Wild salmon is another great addition to reduce cravings. Chia seeds are another option that are high in Omega-3’s and protein. Other options: pasture raised chickens, grass-fed beef.

Anti-inflammatory fats are important. One serving would be a tablespoon of oil, 1/4 of an avocado, some raw almonds, raw cashews,  pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia or flax. Fried foods and roasted nuts are off-limits. When they heat nuts the fats get damaged and that leads to inflammation in the body.
Vegetables is where people usually fall short. A whole hand (on your metaphorical hand plate) should be non-starchy vegetables (2 cups). Vegetables have fiber which help that blood sugar response. Cruciferous vegetables are the best option–broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, etc. They help boost the liver’s detoxification efforts which helps the liver process hormones (estrogen, testosterone, insulin). Green juices are a good addition to your diet but don’t rely on them for your vegetable intake.

The best carbohydrates are the complex ones: sweet potatoes, quinoa, lentils, hummus–not toast.
It’s important to not overdo it with fruit. You shouldn’t exceed 2-3 servings per day. Bananas, mangoes, dates and dried fruit have way more sugar than apples, peaches and berries. Acai bowls are a sugar bomb.

Alcohol
If you’re going to drink, stay away from grain based alcohols (like whiskey). So tequila and red wine would be good options.

Digestive System
90% of serotonin is created in the gut. It’s important to eliminate yeast and add in healthy bacteria like probiotics. It helps the gut heal and elevates our mood. An imbalance of bacteria can lead to depression.

Rewire your brain
We aren’t born with habits, we make habits. We can rewire our brains. Connect to you “why?” If you have weight goals, ask yourself why–is it to feel energized? About keeping a promise to yourself? Understand your purpose and what drives you. When things get hard, it’s easy to cheat. It’s important to connect to your higher purpose–it makes the decision much easier. Create an intention when you decide what to eat and how you’re going to eat. Set a place setting at a table–don’t eat while watching TV (this leads to overeating).

Creating new networks in our brain takes work. We often make associations in our brain–e.g. “every time I sit down to watch a TV show, I eat popcorn.” You start to associate watching a TV show with eating popcorn. Ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” It could be because of habit, stress, or even just a way of unwinding. “What’s a different and healthier decision?” It could be a protein shake or tea with almond milk. Changing the habit makes it an easier switch than just going cold turkey. The more you repeat these new habits, the easier it gets. You begin to adopt them into your every day life. It only takes 14 days without sugar to retrain our taste buds.

An Ode to Significant Others

As I’ve graduated from dating in college to dating in the real world, I’ve come in contact with a harsh truth. We’re all selfish assholes. I literally blocked a guy’s number the other day because I wanted to go to Pop Physique more than I wanted to see him—and he just couldn’t take the hint. I enjoy my solitude; I’m comfortable in it. Giving up my personal time to go on an awkward first or second date is not my idea of a fun night. But how long can we keep this up until we desperately crave a close relationship only to find that we’re left with our mother and aged dog? Sorry mom. I see countless, single 30-something year olds out in LA looking as “happy” as can be. Is it an act or are they actually content with this attachment free lifestyle? (These aren’t rhetorical questions–I really want to know. Email me at theurbanfashiongal@gmail.com).

For the longest time, I used the fact that I’m moving to New York City to push away any serious commitments. Whenever the topic of graduation and the future would come up with a guy, I’d slip in a comment about the move. This worked well until it didn’t and I actually pushed away someone I really liked. That experience—me playing the “cool girl” and it backfiring—made me realize that I want a relationship. I pushed away the idea of settling down and having kids but in reality, I was afraid of the vulnerability attached to it. I have been terrified to say, “This is who I am, the good and the bad; will you accept it?”

We play this game of being uninterested until the point of apathy. We have lost the ability to care deeply, to be vulnerable. What’s so scary about someone not wanting you as long as you want you? At the moment, I’m not 100% comfortable with myself and I’m not looking to settle down with someone because of this. I’m in this transition stage of not knowing what direction I want my life to go in. This doesn’t mean I’m avoiding relationships because I’m uncertain about my future—I’m just waiting to invest my time and energy until it’s right. Life shouldn’t be wasted on half assed relationships. I know I’m going to look back at this time in my life and reminisce about the late nights out with friends, all of the uncertainty that comes with being in your 20s and living in a big city with minimal commitments. I’ll hold onto it while I can.

Gold Hoops & Silk Neck Scarves

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Gold hoops are the new black choker. The 90s are dead and it’s time to retire the velvet, leather and plastic pieces that have been donning our necks for the past year. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t propose our necks go bare all winter–but it’s time to move on. It’s all about dainty, gold chokerssilk scarfs and neck ties that evoke an Old Hollywood glam aesthetic and of course–simple gold hoops.

My gold hoops picks: one, two, three, four.

My scarf picks: one, two, three, four.

Lip Injections

Going under the “knife” for cosmetic reasons is such a controversial topic. In LA, it’s entirely normal for girls of all ages which led me to the decision of getting my lips “done” about 6 weeks ago. But I imagine when I move out of LA that I’ll look back on the fact that I got lip injections like, “Wtf, that was so unnecessary.” I didn’t tell anyone I was getting injections because it was a personal decision that I had already come to–I wasn’t in the position to be convinced out of it which is something I know my friends and family would try to do.

Upon getting to the office, I was numbed with topical lidocaine for about 10 minutes before the injections began. In all honesty, they were not painful. I would say that the discomfort level was a 3 out of 10. There was a slight pinching sensation when he did the injections in the middle of my upper lip versus the ones towards the outside.

I showed my physician a photo of my sister and another of Irina Shayk for inspiration. He said that they both had really full lips which would require more than 1 syringe which was not something I was prepared to do in one sitting. I sat upright in a chair while the physician did a series of 8-10 injections (I lost count). He used hyaluronic acid (Juvederm) and molded the filler with his fingers in between injections. I squeezed on some stress balls during this 10-15 minute process. Towards the end, I started to get anxious and dizzy–I thought I was going to pass out. I was thinking, “Holy shit, this is a real surgical procedure and I didn’t even tell my mom…what was I thinking? What if something goes horribly wrong?” I stayed calm and they had me lie down and sip some water. He ended up not finishing the little bit of filler that was left so I had less than one syringe injected. I iced my lips for a few minutes and that was it.

The injections last about 6-9 months and I’m not entirely sure if I’ll keep up with it. After having about 3 sessions–the filler doesn’t dissolve as quickly which renders the effects of it a little more permanent. I chose to go to my dermatologist, Peter Kopelson. The cost of one syringe at Kopelson Clinic was $715 which is moderate for lip injections. You can find clinics that charge less but you will most likely not be seeing an M.D. or surgeon and you have the risk of a botched lip job. My personal pet peeves when it comes to injections are when the top lip looks duck-like or when the filler bleeds into the lip line. No one besides my mom and best friend noticed I got these done which is exactly what I wanted–a natural result.

The recovery was a little tedious. I had the procedure done on a Friday afternoon in order to look presentable for my internship on the following Monday. Most of the swelling went down in 72 hours but my lips had little bumps in them for several weeks afterwards. I could feel the injection sites especially when I would do cardio (more blood flow to the face, I presume). I bruised on my lips which was easily covered with lipstick. I didn’t realize how long it would take for all of the swelling to go down. I was expecting perfect lips in 72 hours but that wasn’t the case. Apparently, it’s normal for the downtime to be several weeks.

Continue reading “Lip Injections”

Kylie Lip Kit Review + Swatches

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Flash off:
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Flash on:
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(From top to bottom: King K, Reign, Heir, Candy K, Dolce K, Exposed, Koko K, Poise K)
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(eyeliner-Stila in “Periwinkle”)

I’ve had these infamous kits for about a month in order to assess their quality and give a proper review. First of all, I bought way too damn many. I got excited and bought 3 Candy K’s (one for my sister who ended up having an allergic reaction…awkward).

I don’t think these kits were made with tan women (and men, for that matter) in mind. The shades are all a bit off. The pinks and tans are a little too light to look good on my skin tone. For example, Koko K gives me Snooki circa 2008 flashbacks and looks chalky. I wish the shades were a bit more universally flattering.

The metals are fun to play with–I like Heir on top of Candy K and Reign on top of Poise K but these aren’t combinations I’d wear on a daily basis. In these photos, I’m wearing Candy K with “Whirl” by MAC as a lip liner. I like how the darker lip liner gives my lips more dimension and makes them look bigger. The liners that are provided proved kind of useless to me because I prefer lining my lips with a shade that’s slightly darker than my lipstick (aka lip contouring).

As for the product itself, it ended up being too drying. I prefer Lime Crime’s Velvetines (fave shades: Cashmere & Faded) and Anastasia Beverly Hills’ liquid lipsticks (fave shades: Dusty Rose & Sepia) because they don’t make my lips dry to the point where the product flakes off. When I use the Kylie lip kits, I’ll keep Vaseline or a similar shade of lipstick on hand to smoothen things out (yes, I realize having lipsticks in the same color as the kit defeats the purpose of buying the kit but I got caught up in the hype, ok. I still believe that these kits are simply repackaged ColourPop Cosmetics lipsticks). We’re simply paying the $29 price tag for her name and packaging while she rakes in the royalties (good for her,tbh). The quality resembles drugstore products (though, equating her products’ quality with that of other drugstore products would be dissing companies like NYX and they make some pretty great stuff).

Verdict: It’s cool to finally get your hands on these coveted products but if you’re looking for a high quality liquid lipstick, I’d go with another brand (NYX, Anastasia Beverly Hills and Too Faced make some good ones). These kits are simply too drying but I’m excited to see where Kylie takes the brand and how she improves her products.