Where Did My Eyebrows Go?: 3 Tips For Dealing with Thinning Brows

I never leave the house without my eyebrows on (*Jazmine Sullivan singing voice*).

Why did no one tell me to that I might want to leave my naturally thick eyebrows alone because they would practically stop growing after I turned 30?  I blame my mother. As long as I have been alive, she has had no eyebrows. I would, and still do (since I live at home and her makeup dresser is in "my room"), watch her draw on her eyebrows. I never questioned why she had no eyebrows, until one day I woke and noticed my eyebrows were thinning and barely growing in. Ever heard that saying, "if you pluck one gray hair, two more will come to its funeral (at the location of the the plucking)? Why can't my eyebrow hairs do that?

I wish I could jump in a time machine and travel back 15 years ago and stop my younger self from allowing random women from plucking and waxing my eyebrows. Now I am filling in my thinning eyebrows with eyebrow powder every morning, so that I do not look like a big head alien. I already have a big forehead. The last thing I need is to bring more attention to that area between my eyes and my hairline.

What causes this thinning? According to my "Googles," eyebrow hair loss can be caused by a number of factors, including over-plucking or waxing (which can cause follicle damage or infection), excessive weight-loss, stress, vitamin deficiency, and aging.

To combat the thinning, I have done a couple things. First, I cut down on my monthly eyebrow maintenance. I quit waxing my eyebrows around 2008, after some woman in some random nail or hair salon left me with pencil thin, uneven eyebrows. I transitioned over to Indian eyebrow threading after hearing about how great and mostly painless it was from several friends. Eyebrow threading is an ancient hair removal technique which uses a twisting thread to pull hair from the root. I love it because they remove each hair individually, which decreases chances of over-plucking. The threaders always ask whether you want to clean up or fully reshape your eyebrows. However, after noticing that I could barely see my eyebrows, even without a fresh threading, I had to change my brow maintenance from every three weeks to every three months. Ugh!

Second, I started using eyebrow powder after a threader in Santa Barbara suggested I use it to get a fuller brow. She used the Smashbox Tech Trio on me and I instantly fell in love with the way my brows looked. Immediately, I headed to Sephora and bought a box. I used it until they discontinued it and replaced it with Smashbox Ultra Eyebrow Tech Shaping Powder, which I currently use in Dark Brown.

Third, I have been applying Jamaican Black Castor Oil, which is multipurpose oil that I have been using for years to regrow my edges and moisturize my locs. But, recently I found out that it is also good for stimulating eyebrow growth (it is stated as a possible use on the box). I wipe it on my eyebrows before bed after I wash my face. I honestly haven't been applying as consistently as I oughta, but I definitely recommend other eyebrow hair loss sufferers try it out.

My Favorite Natural Hair Products for Cleaning My Locs

I compiled a list of my favorite products to use to clean and condition my locs. Check out why I love these products in the video below.

Products Featured:

SheaMoisture

Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow & Restore Shampoo

SheaMoisture

Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow & Restore Conditioner

Aztec Secret

Indian Healing Clay

Dove

Quench Absolute Shampoo

Figuring Out Weight Loss: My Review of the Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours 4-Week Meal Plan

It is a kinda funny story how I ended up on a Nutrisystem 4-week meal plan. 

Four weeks ago, during my weekly dinner with my father, he asks me if I have thought about joining Weight Watchers. I was totally taken aback by this question and a bit offended. Why was my father asking me about joining Weight Watchers? At that time, I had already lost 10 lbs on my own. Could he not see my progress? Was he trying to tell me I was fat and needed professional help to slim down? 

So, of course, I got in my feelings and responded with an emphatic "No." I told him that I was not interested in joining a weight loss program because they cost money that I did not have to spare. Despite my response, he kept pressing me and even offered to pay if I wanted to join.  I laughed at his proposal and then later went home and told my mother about the conversation. I thought she would be mad at my father for asking me to join Weight Watchers, but she wasn't. She was actually mad at me for refusing his offer to pay for a weight loss program. She reminded me of how expensive eating healthy is and of how getting my father to pay for a healthy meal program, even if it was only for 4 weeks, could save me hundreds of dollars. 

As much as I hate to admit it, I quickly realized that my mother was right. I was not in a position to turn down an opportunity for free healthy food. 

I headed to the Google to do some research. I looked up Weight Watchers and found out that although they sold frozen foods in the supermarkets, they did not offer what I was looking for, home delivery meal plans. Disappointed  I moved onto the next big name weight loss program, Nutrisystem. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Nutrisystem had exactly what I was looking for. Nutrisystem offers three different 4-week meal plans at affordable prices: basic, core, and uniquely yours. I told my dad about it and after some bantering with him (because he insisted that he only offered to pay for Weight Watchers and not another program), I got him to pay around $340 for a 4-week meal plan. 

I picked the uniquely yours meal plan, which included a choice of over 150 meals and snacks and unlimited frozen foods (starting at $11.96 a day). For signing up, I also got a two week supply of their turbo 10 protein shakes. 

My Review

Delivery, Packaging, and Food Selection: 

The food arrived a week later in two separate shipments--one for the non frozen foods and another for the frozen foods (which arrived in a dry ice-filled styrofoam cooler). When I opened the boxes, I was a bit overwhelmed by how much food I received. I had to actually rearrange the pantry and freezer to fit in all of the food I received, which included breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The great thing about the food was that the boxes are clearly marked with the nutritional content, calories, and designated meal. 

Some of the food items I received were frozen cinnamon rolls, waffles, and turkey sausage egg sandwiches for breakfast, soups, steak and cheese melts, and mini pizzas for lunch, chicken parmesan, ravioli with meat sauce, and spinach-stuffed chicken for dinner, and fudge bars, slices of chocolate cake, and mini apple pies for snack. 

Taste:

Honestly, the food that I received varied in taste level. Most of the food tasted very good, such as the breakfast cinnamon rolls, the turkey sausage and egg sandwich,  the waffles and pancakes, the ravioli in meat sauce, the frozen hamburger and chicken sandwiches, and all of the frozen desserts. But there were a few meals that I felt tasted like bland diet food, such as the protein shakes, pasta, the bean chili, and the soups. 

Also, I must note that the portion sizes of all meals that I received were child size. Imagine a McDonalds happy meal versus a Big Mac combo meal. Get the picture? Tiny!!! I assume that the small portions are to keep the meals under 300 calories. But, it is very jarring when you first replace your regular meals with Nutrisystem meals. 

The first time I opened up one of their frozen personal pizzas I laughed and immediately opened another one to eat for my dinner. It felt unnatural to eat such a pizza for dinner that was the size of my hand. Eventually, I learned to pair the pizza with a small salad and a glass of grapefruit juice or red wine, instead of doubling my Nutrisystem meals to fill my stomach. 

Overall Value and Recommendation: 

I recommend the Nutrisystem Uniquely Yours meal plan with reservations. If you are looking for a home delivery program with a large variety of low calorie meals

and

 you have about $350 to spare to buy 4 weeks of prepackaged meals at one time, I recommend you try out this meal program. It definitely helped with my weight loss goals because I always had low calorie foods that I could quickly and easily heat up for my daily meals. I had no excuse for stopping at Wendy's for fast food because I had large variety of "fast" foods at home that I could eat guilt-free without having to spend time prepping and cooking food. 

BUT, if you do not have $350 to spend at one time on food, I would NOT recommend you pay for a Nutrisystem meal program. You pay the same amount of money or more in total on groceries throughout the course of a month. But, it is not the same as paying over $300 dollars on food at one time for prepackaged/frozen meals. The conveniences is not worth the financial burden. Nutrisystem is a subscription meal program so they are going to automatically charge your credit card every month unless you suspend or cancel your subscription. I canceled my subscription after 4 weeks because I can't afford the fee and my dad only agreed to pay for one month for me. 

Pump It Up: My 15 Power Workout Songs Playlist

Need some motivation to get you through your daily workouts or runs? Pump yourself up with a few of my favorite butt-shaking, head nodding, make you wanna run to the club workout songs. Music can make any workout feel quicker and much more fun.

So, warm up, work out, and cool down to 15 of my favorite workout tunes.

Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J

Work by Ciara featuring Missy Elliot

Where Have You Been by Rihanna

Mc Hammer by Rick Ross featuring Gucci Mane

Breathless by Roy Cape All Stars and Blaxx

Work by Iggy Azalea

 Damn Baby by Janet Jackson

Rumble by Skinny Fabulous

Baby Hello by Wande Coal

WTF by Missy Elliot featuring Pharrell Williams

Bundelele by Awilo Longomba

 Done D Party by Fay-Ann Lyons

 Anaconda by Nicki Minaj

Dancing On My Own by Robyn

When Love Takes Over by David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland

Figuring Out Weight Loss: I Lost 17 lbs in 2 Months

Today marks two months since I started this 50 lb weight-loss journey on July 25, 2016. I am proud to announce that I am now 17 lbs lighter.

Honestly, it has not been easy. There have been many days that I wanted to run to Shake Shack for a delicious

double smokeshack cheeseburger 

or stay in bed instead of going to the gym (and, there were those moments when I snuck and ate a piece of my brother's wings plate). But, for the most part, I pushed through those feelings and thoughts and made the healthy choices, with the help of the Super Shred Diet by Dr. Ian Smith and the Nike Training Club Lean Fit fitness program.

I choose to share my weight-loss journey with you all to show that it can be done. You don't need to starve yourself or live in the gym to see results. You just have to be ready and willingly to make healthier choices---to walk more, to eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, pick up some light weights, and eat smaller portions. If you can gain it, you can lose it.

Today I celebrate my major weight loss. But, my weight-loss journey is far from over. I still have 33 lbs to get back to my ideal weight. Tomorrow I start a new 6-week diet program, the

Shred Diet

by Dr. Ian Smith. I hope lose another 9 lbs by Thanksgiving.

If you are looking to lose weight, I encourage you to join me on this program or try the Super Shred Diet.

Week 8: 

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Product Review: Nestle Splash

I love water (**Oprah voice**). 

Drinking water can aid weight loss. Thirst is generally mistaken for hunger, so staying hydrated can help keep you from overeating. Water fills your stomach and leaves less room in your stomach for food. Studies have shown that people who drank at least a glass of water before meals ate 75 calories fewer. 

I love the taste of water. But if you do not, then you may want to try out the

Nestle Splash Natural Fruit Flavored Water.

I received a free bottle of mandarin orange flavored Nestle Splash, along with some cool sunglasses, a bendy straw, and a beach ball, from Influenster to sample.

I took this bottle (and the bendy straw) to work with me to drink during my two-hour lecture. Truthfully, I did not like the taste of the mandarin orange flavor. It tasted a bit artificially sweet to me. Because I did not have another beverage with me, I drank the entire bottle. It is a decent drink option, if you are thirsty or you hate the taste of plain water. Nestle Splash comes in different fruit flavors, including berry and grape, without the sugar or calories. Although I did not like the mandarin orange flavor, I would not mind trying the other flavors. 

I definitely recommend you try it if you need to drink more water and hate the taste or if you are looking for a new flavored water. 

Note: I received my Nestle Splash products complimentary from Influenster and am entering the Brand challenge for a chance to win a prize, but all opinions are my own. 

Figuring Out Weight Loss: Surviving Vacations, Weekends Away, and Dining Out

I am happy to announce that your girl Toya T is still losing weight. I lost 1.6 lbs this week. This is really a huge feat because of the fact that I took off three days from my diet this past Labor Day weekend. 

Week 6:

From Saturday to Monday, I was in Philadelphia with two of my friends at the Made in America Festival, which is a 2-day music festival sponsored by Budweiser. At first, I thought that I might be able to follow my diet with a few tweaks while I was at the festival: eat my regular healthy breakfast and lunch, drink a minimum of one beer per day, and eat the least fatty meals for dinner while I was at the festival.  I really thought that this was going to work. Or, at least I wanted this plan to work because I did not want to lose my weight-loss momentum from the past 6 weeks. I packed as many healthy snacks as I could carry and brought along a homemade protein shake, since our hotel had a mini fridges in the rooms. 

By noon on Saturday, I realized that it was unrealistic for me to follow my diet during my weekend away. This was my last hoorah before heading back into the classroom and plus I was with my friends. Sticking to my diet felt more like work than a normal healthy life choice.  So, I decided to allow myself three cheat days, not to overindulge on fatty goodness, but to eat and drink when I felt hungry without counting calories (and feeling guilty). To not fall back into bad eating habits or throw away my weight-loss successes, I also decided to jump back into my Super Shred diet at the point that I stopped on the program's weekly meal plan--in this case, it was Days 5, 6, and 7 of Week 2.

During my three cheat days, I made sure to stay active. Luckily, the festival made this very easy because it involved a lot of walking around and standing. I made over 24,000 steps on Saturday alone and burned over 3000 calories (note: this is more than I burn on a regular day eating healthy and working out). 

When I weighed myself on Tuesday, I was surprised to see that I didn't gain any weight. I lost .2 lbs and by Thursday I had lost an additional 1.4 lbs. 

This past weekend was very important moment in my 50 lb weight-loss journey. I learned that I can still eat, drink, and be merry without losing control. Cheat days or cheat meals are good in moderation as long as you stay active and focused on your goals. I am now 12.2 lbs down and determined to lose another 8 lbs by the end of the month. 

Smiles and Lime-a-ritas at Made in America 

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How To Stay Focused During a Long Weight-Loss Journey

First things first, I am proud to announce that I lost .9 lbs this past week. Although it is not a big number, it is still a victory because it is a weight loss and not a weight gain.

Week 4 Progress:

In 4 weeks, I have lost 8 lbs with the Super Shred diet and Nike Training Club Lean Fit workout challenge.  **pelvic thrusts** Now I have 42 lbs to go...42 LBS TO GO!!!! Ugh.

Losing that much weight is not going to be easy or quick (unless I max out my credit cards and get liposuction). It is going to take months upon months of working out, dieting, and focus.

To help me keep focused during my weight-loss journey, I am doing the following 3 things:

1. Join Fitness Challenges 

This is very simple. Find a fitness challenge and do it.

  • It helps you develop a regular fitness schedule that is easy to follow and increases with intensity as it progresses.

  • It prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by making you focus on a short-term, achievable fitness goal.

  • If you get your friends or family to join the challenge, it helps you create a fitness support system to keep you motivated to finish.

  • Plus, when you finish, you are fitter and have the sweet satisfaction of completing a fitness goal.

Here's a challenge for you: 

2. Try New Healthy Recipes 

The internet is wonderful place to find tons and tons of healthy recipes (note: Pinterest is the best site ever to find yummy, healthy recipes).

  • It helps you transition from bad eating habits to good eating habits, by allowing you to eat less calories without feeling deprived.

  • It helps you discover new foods and dishes that you can share with your family and friends and impress them with your culinary skills.

  • If you cook your meals ahead of time, preferably at the beginning of the week, it will help you stay on your diet and give you less excuses for grabbing for "fast fatty foods" (the dreaded 3 F's).

Here's a healthy recipe for you: 

3. Buy Cute Workout Clothes

Just because you are working out and sweating doesn't mean you can't look good while doing it.

  • Having cute workout clothes takes the UGH out of working out by giving you the same feeling as getting dressed up for a night out.

  • They tend to be form-fitting, which is a GOOD thing. Wearing oversized and baggy workout clothes make you look frumpy and larger than you really are, skewing your body image. Wearing cute, form-fitting workout clothes provides much-needed support for your jiggly parts and allows you to check your form and make sure you are correctly performing exercises, decreasing injuries and maximizing workout benefits.

  • Plus, it helps show off your new developing fit body.

Here's some cute workout clothes options for you: 

Low-end Activewear Brand: Everlast (sold at

Sears

)

High-end Activewear: Ivy Park (sold at

Nordstrom

)

Figuring Out Weight Loss: Week Three---The Scale and My Body Disagree

I have completed another week of my weight loss journey. And, after eating a meal plan consisting of 2 meals and 4 snacks per day and working out 6 days a week, I proud to announce I lost .2 lbs. That is right! I said .2 lbs.

At first, I felt a bit discouraged after I stepped off the scale this morning. All that work and not even a full pound down. Ugh! But, then I remembered that the scale is not the only measurement of my weight loss progress. The fact that I was able to comfortably fit into some of my favorite clothes this past week without feeling like

Kim K's pregnant feet stuffed into tight shoes 

(never forget!!!) is the best proof of my progress. Plus, my brutally honest mother actually told me that I looked like I lost weight, specifically that my backside was less wide (i.e., West Indian mom's way of saying you lost weight in a good way).

Despite the scale disagreeing with my body, I am pushing forward on my weight loss journey stronger and more determined.

In honor of my small victory, I have posted another brief video of your girl Toya T sweating it out in the gym. This workout is part of Nike Training Club's "Controlled Blast" 45-minute workout.

5 Tips For Dealing With (Race-Based) Mental Trauma

Mental health is very important. Just as important as physical health. With all that has happened this summer, I have created my 5 tips for dealing with mental trauma due to loss, race-based violence, and frustration with current US affairs.

I made this video after the news of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile's murders at the hands of the police. This is in response to the hurt, anger, exasperation, and frustration I noticed among those most affected by these senseless and unjustified state-sanctioned murders.

Figuring Out Healthy Eating: My 3 Favorite Healthy Recipes

(Bad) eating got me into this mess and (good) eating is going to get me out...

The thing that I find the hardest about losing weight is the food, or specifically the type of food, you have to eat to lose the pounds. Am I the only that imagines eating bowls of leaves and twigs when you hear the word "diet"?  ***Shudders***

My first week on the Super Shred diet I was craving burgers and fries, which sadly I was eating every week. Driving by my favorite burger spot made me angry, hungry, and sad. Fortunately, the Super Shred diet allows me to eat a bunch of my favorite foods, either in smaller quantities or in lower calorie versions.

Here are three of my favorite healthy recipes (that have kept me from running to Shake Shack):

The Chocolate Razzy Smoothie

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

  • 4 tablespoons fat-free vanilla yogurt

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

  • 1/3 cup fat-free or low-fat milk (highly suggest: light almond milk)

  • 3 ice cubes

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. 

Total Time: 5 minutes 

Servings: 1

Under 200 Calories 

Applesauce Muffins

  • 2 cups Cheerios cereal

  • 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup applesauce

  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk (or light almond milk)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup fat-free egg product

  • 1/2 cup raisins, if desired

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.

  2. Crush cereal. In large bowl, stir together cereal, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in remaining ingredients just until moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

  3. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.

Total Time: 35 minutes 

Servings: 12

150 Calories 

Salmon Baked in Foil

  • 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

  • 1/2 salmon (about 1-1/2 pounds), with or without skin (remove before eating)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, white wine vinegar, olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.

  3. Lay the salmon on a double sheet of foil on top of a baking sheet.

  4. Fold all 4 sides of the foil up and pour the honey mixture evenly over the salmon.

  5. Seal the foil by folding it as though you are wrapping a present. Place the salmon in the oven.

  6. Cook until the salmon is just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Take care not to overcook the salmon.

  7. Unwrap the salmon from the foil, cut into pieces and serve hot or at room temperature.

Total Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4 

154 Calories 

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Figuring Out Weight Loss: Week Two---I Lost 2 lbs

Good news, guys and gals!!! I lost another 2 lbs.

I am so proud of myself for decreasing the number on the scale for a second week in a row, especially since the human body tends to fight weight loss after losing a significant amount during your first week of working out and dieting. If you want proof, check out the first two episodes of  any season of the tv series

The Biggest Loser

to see the drastic difference in weight loss between week one and week two. Contestants go from losing 15 lbs week one to losing 0 to 2 lbs week two.

But, by successfully completing another week of my Nike Training Club Lean Fit workout plan and following the week two meal plan from the Super Shred diet, which included eating three meals 3 to 4 hours apart and two snacks daily, I was able to push through and get myself closer to my weight-loss goals.

Week 2:      Front View                                              Side View

Wish me luck for this upcoming week. My meal plan is going to be drastically different than the previous two weeks. Week 3 of the Super Shred diet focuses on calorie disruption. So, I will only be allowed to eat two meals and four low calorie snacks  (less than 150 calories) per day to throw my body off kilter and force it to readjust.

As I mentioned prior, my main problem is my bad eating habits. Eating less food is going to be a BIG challenge for me. But, my desire to fit back into my favorite outfits are greater.

Figuring Out Weight Loss: The Running for Weight Loss App

In my last post, I promised that I would discuss the running app that I have been using to help me lose weight. I discovered the

Running for Weight Loss

app a few weeks ago as an ad on the

MyFitnessPal

app, which is an online diet and exercise journal. To be honest, I do not like running. But, when I saw that I could possibly lose 35 lbs in 8 weeks using this training program, I decided to try it out.

The Running for Weight Loss app is a unique running program designed specifically for weight loss. The program features six 8-week interval plans of walking, running, and sprinting intervals, with three levels of difficulty. It also has audio instructions and encouragement, GPS map of your run, daily weight-loss tips, and detailed records of every workout and your overall progress. 

This week I completed week 3 of the program and so far I am really happy with my progress. I am running longer and faster than week 1, day 1. Plus, I am burning over 400 calories in 39 minutes. Hopefully, with the Running for Weight Loss app,  I will be down 35 lbs by the end of week 8. 

***App is available on the AppStore, Google Play, and Amazon Apps.***