You Have to Check This Out: Be Natural Organics Skin Care

When I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease (hypothyroidism), I learned pretty quickly that gluten and I were going to have to break up. Forever. (Forever ever.) While I still have a lot to learn in terms of living gluten-free, I was wholly unprepared to have to think about watching for gluten in anything other than my food. Turns out, it's everywhere. In everything. 

One of the areas my Integrative Medicine doc advised me to consider: my skin care. I had already been thinking about looking for more natural products given how close Asher spends to my skin 24/7 (and I'm not about to turn down those big, slobbery kisses right on my face). It was shocking to think about how gluten-laden products could be slowly delivering a steady stream of disruptive, inflammatory toxins into my body all day or all night, unbeknownst to me.

I hit up one of my favorite online resources to research potential brands/products to replace my current stash: EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. I was due for a new moisturizer anyway, so I started with that search, and one of the first items that popped up was the Hyaluronic Serum from Be Natural Organics. Not only was it EWG verified, which is a pretty big deal, but I had been considering a hyaluronic acid product to help my sad, tired mom skin. A visit to the BNO website and sample order later, I realized I had very quickly found the skin care line of my dreams!

Now let me remind y'all, I used to work for plastic surgeons and dermatologists. So when I say I'm picky about skin care, I'm PICKY. I'm also very cheap, though, so in absence of the insane discounts and free swag I used to receive while working in the industry, I typically have to sacrifice quality for price point. No mas! 

I love that you can order generous sample sizes or trial kits from Be Natural Organics and try something out before you buy full size (the Rose Hip Seed Cleanser you see pictured above is a sample), but even the full products are really affordable. And you guys....THEY WORK. I'm still old and tired, but my skin looks refreshed. Their Eye Repair Night Serum is honest to goodness the only eye product I've ever used and seen a dramatic difference. (Yes, even including those $150 itty bitty tubes of eye cream made with unicorn sweat.)

So you're intrigued now, right? Organic skin care...that works...that you can sample first...and it's affordable? I know! It get's better...

Be Natural Organics has graciously agreed to participate in a giveaway for my awesome readers! 

Enter below to win your very own full-size Hyaluronic Serum to refresh and restore your skin! Giveaway will run through Wednesday, May 24th, so get your entries in now. Winner will be selected at random and notified on Thursday, May 25th. US entries only.

You can also shop now and use code USEYOURWORDS to receive 20% off of the entire store!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's your current favorite toxin-free skin care product or line?


So I Have Hashimoto's Disease...

It admittedly feels a little silly to share this here on the ol' blog because this condition is actually really common. However, since I'm making some lifestyle changes to address said condition, it's worth mentioning. And this will probably help explain all the #glutenfree going down over on Instagram since y'all know this body has been powered by carbs since I was a spunky, freckled-faced wee one. (#givemeallthedonuts)

Prior to conceiving -- well, to be exact, prior to knowing we had conceived -- I checked in with my PCP for a routine visit and bloodwork. Turns out, my thyroid levels were borderline out of whack (subclinical hypothyroidism), so out of an abundance of caution, I started a low dose of levothyroxin so that we wouldn't have to deal with a full-blown thyroid condition in the middle of pregnancy. Turns out, it was good timing because Asher was already baking in the oven.

Fast forward to after delivering Ash, I wanted to get off the meds as soon as possible. With my midwife's permission, I weaned off of the levo, was re-tested, and all was well for me to continue without meds. I was able to remain medication-free for about four months, and then one afternoon in the throes of sleep training, I noticed that my throat was really, really swollen. (And yes, I partially blame sleep training for this. Kidding...kinda.) I instantly suspected my thyroid, so I made an appointment for the following Monday with my PCP to check it out.

Yup, the thyroid was back on the fritz. The recommendation was to jump back on the low dose of levo that I was taking during my pregnancy, and my doc advised that I'd likely have to just remain on the medication for life. 

As luck would have it, I had been doing a ton of research at that time on immunity, inflammation, and general wellness in an effort to make an informed decision about Asher's vaccines (a topic that I have no interest in broaching here, but would welcome in person or via email). I asked her (my doc) if I was correct in my understanding that thyroid issues were generally autoimmune in nature. She confirmed that was the case, and I also asked if this meant that I had Hashimoto's Disease (or Hashimoto's Thyroiditis), which she also confirmed. 

This was the first experience in this journey -- which I will truly be on my whole life -- that reminded me not to assume that my general practitioners will take the time to explain a diagnosis or treatment, or even broach alternatives. Not liking the idea of taking a synthetic medication my whole life -- not to mention knowing that my body was so inflamed and out of sorts that it was attacking itself -- I set out to learn more and find supportive resources.

I was fortunate to find two amazing resources to help guide my path: a local Integrative Medicine doctor who specializes in autoimmune conditions, and a veritable handbook for managing my condition via diet and lifestyle, The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Myers. Equipped with these tools, M and I started making some critical changes to help improve my health for the long haul. We've cut out gluten (donuts...I miss you, but you're literally killing me), most dairy, grain, legumes, nightshade vegetables, caffeine, alcohol, most processed foods, and sugar. Given these limitations -- which are admittedly strict, but only for the first month (which I just completed) to allow my body to "reset" and get a break from all the inflammatory factors -- I decided to start eating organic, pasture-raised poultry and wild-caught fish. After almost 20 years of no meat, I've tolerated it surprisingly well, so hopefully I can sustain this diet and my body will learn to run on healthy fats (versus carbs upon carbs sprinkled with grains, like previously).

We've also removed toxic products from our home, even more so than before. (I had cut out anything with synthetic fragrance just before getting pregnant.) We've started cooking on cast iron (not nearly as difficult after some proper seasoning), invested in organic bedding, learned to check for gluten in everything (including personal care products), and overall became much more in tune with how our body is functioning. It's amazing how many symptoms we can learn to ignore because they just seem commonplace: hair loss, fatigue, brain fog, generalized aches and soreness. Our bodies are often trying to communicate to us, but there's just too much noise in our culture of "Go, go, go!" to hear it. 

There's so much to learn and a lot to share along the way, so without this becoming a health and wellness blog, I will share tidbits I learn along the way. And, of course, email or leave a comment with any questions or feedback. We've all got different tools and perspectives, and I've really enjoyed learning from others who are thriving with Hashi's and learning to take the best care of their bodies for the long haul.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for lots of health snack ideas and exclusive content. I'll be using the tag #lifewithHashis for posts specific to Hashimoto's and this whole new lifestyle thing on IG and my Facebook page.


Boho White Top with Denim and Booties

This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on any applicable links.

I think I could live in white shirts. In fact, I predominately do. There's just something so clean and classic about a white top. (Well, until you drip coffee on it. #reallife) My daily go-to is a white v-neck tee (ordered in a size up and tall length so it hangs how I like it), but my other favorite white tops in warmer months are airy, flowy tunics that feel feminine and comfortable.

This is one of those outfits that I feel like I could wear on repeat day after day. Vary up the pants to include some fun denim (like these rustic skinnies), change up the shoes with sandals or wedges (like these bright espadrilles), and grab another white blouse with unique details (like this one-shouldered cutie or this asymmetrical boho look). It's a simple, clean combo that works equally well for running errands with the little one as it does for meeting up with friends, going to church, and cooking-out with the fam. (Or in this case, grabbing some coffee with M at one of our favorite local shops. Holla, Craftwork!)

I also love how easy this top is for nursing. It look me a bit to figure out that it's much easier to pull down the neckline to discreetly feed Ash, versus pulling my whole shirt up. I will sometimes throw a light scarf in the diaper bag to wear when we're feeding out-and-about so that neither of us have to sweat to death under a big blanket.

And can I just take a quick minute to give a big ol' e-hug to shoe makers who embrace the chunky heel? These TOMS are so easy to wear, even when I'm standing and carrying Ash for hours at a time. (We've yet to sit during a whole church service, but I ain't even mad about it.) Plus, tassels. I'm eyeing these beauties for my next shoe splurge.

And here's some free advice: when you find a perfect piece that you know you'll wear to death (like this top)...buy two(I am wearing the medium but will likely order another in small for a slimmer fit, too.)

Top: Tobi (On Sale!) c/o // Denim: Ann Taylor // Booties: TOMS // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Pochette: Louis Vuitton


Tips for Shopping Online

Confession: I hate going shopping for clothes. Clammy dressing rooms, racks upon racks of clothes, overly perky sales people, mannequins...the whole thing wears me out. I am by no means a fashionista, but online shopping, I can do. Since I have grown quite adept at procuring items from the comfort of my couch, I wanted to share some tips for shopping online for clothes that have come in handy for me over the years.

Consider Proportion

This is such a massive aspect of how things fit, to which I don't think enough people pay attention. The style or item may be all the rage, but if the lines are not right for YOU, then it will not be flattering. I've fallen victim of this too many times myself. For example, I used to clamor for midi-length dresses and skirts because they mostly covered my pale legs yet were cooler than a maxi. However, that style cut my legs at an odd spot, and since I'm 5'4" and not prone to wear fabulously tall nude heels with said midi length, it made me look frumpy. And if you've got an hourglass shape, honey, work that middle with a cute belt! Don't hide under boxy layers just because tunics and skinnies work on Pinterest babes.

Dress Your Age

Tough love time, ladies. If you're shopping exclusively at online boutiques that are geared toward college-ages gals, but in real life you're a 30-something executive with a mortgage and kids, it may be time to expand your shopping game. I have no qualms myself about finding some pieces from fast fashion sites like this, such as maxi dresses to wear to the lake house, or trendy tops for running errands. But anything that I plan to hang onto for more than a season (which is most things these days), I expand my search and plan to pay a little more for something that will last and continue to wear well. I'd just look way too dumb in festival-worthy gear while loading up on laundry detergent at Target.

Size Charts are Your Friend

Grab a measuring tape -- buy one if you don't have one -- and consult the size chart. It's right there with the item, a quick view before clicking "Order," and will save you a lot of grief in returns or feeling like a buffalo because you bought your normal size and it's an epic fail. Sizing is all over the place lately ("vanity sizing," you're fooling no one), so especially if this is your first order from a site or brand, don't skip this step.

Strike a Pose

Look at the model who is wearing the clothes. (If you're perusing a site that doesn't show the clothes on a person, shop elsewhere. You're gambling.) If it looks iffy on the she-giraffe with impeccable style, it's going to be a hot mess on anyone else. Wide leg pants are this way for me. They always look just kind-of-OK on the model, which translates to potato sack race-ready for gals who don't have legs for days.

Similarly, if an item is available in multiple colors, click on the images of the other colors, even if you're not into that hue. This can sometimes help you see more detail or how the fabric lays that you would have missed if you were only looking at the initial image. I find this is true a lot with items I'm considering in white or black. Once I click on some of the color options, I realize that perhaps the material isn't as nice as hoped, or I pick up on a detail or something about the cut that I would have missed.

Undergarments and Care

Some items require a one-of-a-kind bra that you have to do some swift yoga moves to get into. Or, more daring: no bra at all. If you're a strapless-bras-are-as-high-maintenance-as-I-get kinda gal, don't order that top. Or let's say that a billowy dress you love appears to be potentially see-through, consider how airy you'll feel when you have to layer underneath a slip and full-coverage panties to avoid sharing your underbits with everyone at the grocery store. Just know what works for you, and it you can't figure out the undergarment situation to make an outfit work while it's in your cart, you'll more than likely never end up wearing it. 

Also, if the idea of taking clothes to the dry cleaners makes you cringe, check the care instructions and don't buy dry clean only. This is an obvious point, but it's an easy thing to overlook and fall in love with an item that just isn't practical.

Wardrobe Harmony

If adding a new piece necessitates buying a half dozen other new pieces before it really has some semblance of outfit-potential, or if you can't envision a whole outfit around that piece using items you own (since people tend to frown upon going out in a blouse sans bottoms), you should probably pass. Chances are, that item will end up at the back of your closet with the tag still on years later. However, if you've been eyeballing a certain piece for a while that you want to incorporate into your look, think about how you will style it in a way that doesn't feel like dress-up and will elevate your overall wardrobe. (If, for instance, this purchase would be the final push to get rid of those five other sad tops that you just don't wear but can't seem to get rid of, then go for it! Less is more, and you'll inevitably get a better cost-per-wear when you have fewer but well-loved items.)

Speaking of cost-per-wear, do the math. A fabulous strapless dress that maxes out your monthly clothing budget is something you'd wear twice a year (or maybe twice ever), so consider how you might better invest in your wardrobe. If you're due for a new pair of jeans, that money might be better spent on something you know you'll wear several times a week. Example: A $200 dress is great for the cocktail party you may attend next month, but it's $200 per wear until the other party offers come rolling in. Meanwhile, if you spent that $200 on an awesome pair of jeans, you can get those down $5 per wear after just one season (assuming they're in rotation three days a week). A splurge is not a bad thing here and there, but lock down solid staples in your closet first so that you feel great in your clothes every single day, not just a few times a year.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for shopping online for clothes?


I Love Motherhood More Than I Ever Imagined

You may imagine that I'm writing such a titled post in a blissful wave of giggles and ease with my little man, nary a complaint in sight. But you'd be wrong. In fact, it's been a very trying week. Asher has been really fussy and uncomfortable, whining about 80% of his awake time, and threatening to break the streak of even his most fail-safe favorites (his Animal Babies book and being outside in any capacity). On top of this, M has been fiercely working on a mixing and sound design project against an impossible deadline for a major client, so finding moments of zen are hard to come by for all of us.

Nevertheless, it is even in such a week that I can say that being a mom is more wonderful than I could have possibly known. 

I guess everyone says that (or those who don't probably don't broach the subject often), but you have to understand that I didn't always want to be a mother. In fact, I spent the majority of my life not wanting kids. They confused me, they scared me, they annoyed me...I was good imagining a yard full of dogs, y'all. 

But then I met my husband. And I was like, "Yup. Babies." 

I don't have to explain to any mother out there that it's exhausting, it's physically the most demanding thing ever, it stretches your perception of self to include another squishy being, and it will change everything. Forever. There's scarcely a true grasp of life before my son anymore. 

Every time I hold my boy close and feel his baby hairs against my cheek, I just want to cry in absolute gratefulness that the Lord saw fit to make me Asher's mother, and to melt a heart of stone to experience even a shadow of God's unfailing love for us, hobbling babes who survive on trust and hope. I'm thankful that He knows better than me, and that my plans don't often come to fruition.

Because His plans are so, so much better.