So you want to change something about your life and create new results?  Where's the first place to start?  Write down your goals? Sure.  Visualize your desired outcome? Absolutely!  Work on your beliefs?  You bet!  All of those are wonderful steps that will point you in the right direction.  But, unless you have this necessary component, you might experience frustration and disappointment.
Once you know what you want, the very next step is to set up the infrastructure needed to guarantee your success.  And what is that infrastructure? It's your environment.   Lemme tell you a story.  Years ago, I heard the story of how Nobel Prize winner Alexis Carrel kept the cells of a chicken alive in a test tube for 34 years.  Chickens in general have a lifespan of only 3-5 years.  So how was Alexis able to create such an impossible outcome?  Simple, he created the ideal environment.  He learned that the cells would continue to live if they were immersed in mineral rich water that was changed every 48 hours.  When the water wasn't changed, 34 years later, the cells died.

Your environment dictates your outcomes.  And many of us tend to forget about this part of our reality creation.  Surrounding yourself in the right environment is an absolute must!  Let me give you a few examples.

Once upon a time I joined Planet Fitness.  The gym was close to home and very inexpensive.  Several times a week I made the short drive to get a work out in.  Then I realized something.  Often times, I was the the seemingly most fit person at the gym.  This may not have been the case, but it was my perception.  As the weeks went by, I noticed that I didn't push myself as hard as I should have.  Then my husband recommended I joined another gym further away and cost nearly 3X as much.  When I visited, not only were the amenities great, but it seemed like everyone was on their game when it came to their fitness levels.  That's when I realized that I wasn't as fit as I once thought.  I joined immediately.  Within a couple of months of going regularly, and pushing myself harder than before, I had the body I always wanted.  Just a shift in the environment made all the difference.

Sometimes I'm really unproductive when I work from home, but at the coffee shop I suddenly have the ability to focus and knock tasks off my list.  If I clean my home in the morning before starting work, I have a much more successful day.  Authors will sometimes retreat to secluded places to create their novels.  If the environment remains the same, so do the results.

Yesterday, I watched The Biggest Loser for the first time.  That show is the perfect example of how a different environment can create radical results.  Transformations were able to occur simply because they created the ideal environment for weight loss.  Maybe you can't confine yourself to a ranch for months at a time, but here are some tips to help you create the right environment for success.

  • Find places where others are doing what you are doing (or want to do) and go there!   When I go to a coffee shop, I'm surrounding myself with others who are focused on their work. It makes me want to do the same.  When I wanted to experience financial freedom, and freedom over my time, I would visit the wealthy part of town on my lunch breaks for motivation.  
  • Connect with people that align with the outcome you want to create.  When I worked for a company, I didn't know anyone who worked for themselves.  Worse yet, all of my coworkers were perfectly content with their jobs.  So I invested lots and lots of time online finding people online who achieved what I wanted.  I din't know them personally but I knew their stories intimately enough to feel as if it were my own.  And when I got on my own,  my first priority was to get around people who lived in the manner that I wanted to live. 
  • Do whatever it takes to transform your current physical environment.  If you want to release weight, you've got to adjust your environment to align with that.  Whatever it is that you want to achieve, your first move should be to alter your physical environment in some way, shape or form.  
Think of your environment as the air that your dreams need to survive.  Kinda like how the flame of a candle will not sustain with out oxygen.  The new results you want to create can not occur within the current environment.  Something has to shift.  You need a new, mineral rich environment that supports your ideal outcome.  Our job is to identify the elements that are currently missing and inject them into our day.  Your survival depends on it.   
BP wedges in beige
I wasn't really on the lookout for a new pair of shoes, but then I got inspired by this look and felt like this needed to happen.  A pair of sleek wedges were exactly what was missing from my current collection.  Sure, I had quite a few pairs of cute heels.  But, when I want to look pulled together on a daily basis, wearing heels becomes a bit difficult.  What I wanted were a pair of shoes that could be worn on a daily basis that were simple, cute and stylish
I needed a solution and I think I've found it in the perfect wedge from a brand called BP.  Wedges are perfect for so many reasons.  First, they're comfortable.  And this wedge is no exception.  Your entire foot is supported which makes it the most perfect shoe (aside from flats) for busy days out and about.  Honestly, these are the most comfortable pair of shoes I own.
In some instances the heel of the wedge can be too narrow which makes you feel somewhat unstable. No one wants to suffer a misstep in a poorly designed wedge that leads to an awkward twisting of the ankle.  These wedges do not have that problem which makes it understandable why they received so many glowing reviews.  The silhouette of these wedges are perfect.  Simple enough to go with any outfit and stylish enough to be the focal point of a simple look.  I suspect that these babies will get a lot of use.  One of my favorite purchases in a while.  In fact, they've inspired me to pick up one another pair.  I kinda like this one as a nude for deeper tones.

(p.s. these wedges run small so consider going a half or full size bigger if you're interested)

Although I don't always wear makeup on a daily basis, I have quite a large quantity.  While amassing my beauty collection, I have learned that in some instances, luxury brands do offer a greater payoff for the investment.

But when it came to makeup for women of color.  Our choices became a bit more limited. Sure, many companies are creating rich, deep shades for foundations and concealers, but rarely did you find an entire high end makeup line for the melanin endowed.

Then black|Up came along and changed everything.  Although, I'm just now learning of the brand, the company has been around since 1999.  They have absolutely everything you need in their lineup and multiple shades that fit a variety of skin tones.  One can just take a quick look at their polish selection and see how well their shades work on brown skin.  Have you seen anything so gorgeous?
The first thing I'm picking up from the brand is their dual ended contour stick.  A highlighter and contour stick in one is the only thing missing from my current collection.  And although I don't need another lip balm, their selection of colors is a bit too tempting.   Since they're based out of France, there aren't may US stores that carry the line.  Good thing they're working with Sephora to bring their offerings to America.  You can also order directly from the black| Up website but I like to rack up the beauty points with Sephora for free goodies later.

That's it.  I've neglected my hair journey long enough.  It's time to kick it into high gear so I can make up for lost time before 2016 comes along.  A reader asked me a great question via email that really got me thinking.  She inquired about the products/technique(s) that I've learned over the years which have been the most successful.

Looking back, I really enjoyed the time when I was eating for beauty benefits.  I purposefully started off each day with highly nutritious foods (or drinks) that had a wonderful impact on my hair and skin.  I've veered way off the path and I'm now making an effort to return.  Breakfast is the perfect place to start because it's easy to carve out a routine.  So, I'm going back to my roots with the intention of making it a part of a daily routine.
  First I start with the main course which consists of organic oatmeal.  Oatmeal is great because I can load it with nutritional extras.  My go-to addition is black strap molasses.  Black strap molasses (BSM) is loaded with trace mineral such as copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, & B6.  Many boast of how BSM was able to help reverse their grey hairs back to it's natural color.  I have more grey hairs than I'm comfortable with so I hope to experience wonderful results in that area as well.  Along with molasses, I make sure that my oatmeal contains flax seeds for omega 3s and fiber.   This is just a start, I plan on loading up my oatmeal with other goodies once I get into the swing of things.
Prior to enjoying my meal, I'll probably kick things off with a cup of warm lemon water paired with collagen supplements.  When I first introduced collagen into my diet, I noticed an immediate difference, so I know it works.  With every year that passes, our collagen production reduces.  We can't stand idly by and allow that to happen.  In order to complete the collagen triad, I pair lemon water (vitamin C) and silica from Beautifully Bamboo tea.   Collagen, silica and vitamin C are thee best of friends. You need all three to stimulate collagen production.  Combining all three is a very smart move if you want to nourish your skin from within.  And let's not forget how wonderful bamboo tea is for hair growth and fabulous nails.

Next to the collagen supplements is a dose of ultra concentrated fermented cod liver oil (FCLO).  If you're asking yourself, "what on earth is fermented cod liver oil," then please check these posts out.  FCLO is a game changer.  Then I remembered that I still had a small stash of chlorella supplements and tossed them into the mix.   I'll keep fruit as a mid morning snack and sip on tea and lemon water throughout the day.

It's a start, but I'm really happy with where I'm at so far.  There's no doubt that if this becomes a regular part of my morning, the results will be amazing.  I'll keep experimenting with adding a protein source and maybe a few other amazing supplements.

 And to think that I used to skip breakfast.

If you've been on Instagram for any length of time, you've become somewhat familiar with the fitness gurus and their relentless dedication to creating the perfect body.  One commonality they share is the way they eat.  You'll often see plastic tupperware filled with green vegetables and an unbreaded protein.  Then at some point in the week, he or she will indulge in eating "normal food" otherwise known as a cheat day.

Instinctually, I shunned this way of life.  Why deprive yourself all week just so you can eat like a normal person on some designated day.  This form of deprivation seemed unrealistic and much too challenging for us commoners.  But, I've come around to this way of thinking and I'm ready to try eating like a fitness buff.

Here's why I've changed my tune.  For a few months, I've indulged in any and all of my cravings. Chips, snacks, fried foods, whatever.  If I wanted to eat it, I did.  And, of course, the inevitable happened. Clothes began to feel a bit snugger and I found myself reaching for loose fitting outfits meant to disguise my expanding waistline.  To correct this situation, I did what I had to do.  I ate sensibly and incorporated more physical activity into my day.  Soon, clothes started fitting normal again.

But I feel like I have been riding a see-saw. On one side, I eat the things I love and gain weight. On the other side, I restrict my eating and get to enjoy the body I want.  So how do I get to do both?  How do I indulge in yummy foods AND get to experience a healthy body.

Enter the cheat meal/day.

The cheat day is the intersection between the body of your dreams and enjoying delicious food.  Cheat day(s) provide permission to reward ourselves as a result of our healthy eating.  Cheat days give us something to look forward to.  Eating whatever you want, when you want is overrated.  Most times, this only leads to regrets.  If you're still in your twenties with a metabolism that never quits, then maybe you can consume enormous amounts of calories without consequences.  But, for the rest of us, reckless eating will quickly catch up.

The solution is to load up on nutrient dense foods as much as possible.  This means fruits and veggies making up a larger percentage of what we consume.   We now manage the way we eat so we can enjoy fitting into the clothes we love.  And maybe we don't become as regimented as the fitness gurus on Instagram.  Maybe we just increase the amount of greens we enjoy and eat smaller portions.  Whatever's required to keep us at our healthy weight.
When I do enjoy an indulgent meal, I don't want to feel guilty because we've already had our share of high fat foods this week. I want to enjoy every bite, knowing that I'll still be able to fit into my favorite jeans.  I understand that my definition of eating clean and cheat meals may not be as restrictive as defined by the fitness community.  But it's all about eating very sensibility and in a way that creates the body I want to have or maintain.  

When I used to travel regularly, I'd adjust my eating if I had a long couple of weeks of travel ahead so I didn't return home 5-10lbs heavier than I left.  If I decided to eat out every night, using the company credit card, I'd regret it later. But, if I made an effort to eat sensibly, maintaining my weight seemed so easy.  I want to go back to that sense of ease and comfort in knowing that I have the power to experience the body I desire and the occasional indulgence.  Thank you Insta-fitness gurus, for showing us the way to having it all.