Improving Your Skin Requires Commitment. Where Should You Jump In?

Improving Your Skin Requires Commitment.  Where Should You Jump In?


Your skin is your body’s largest organ.  Treating it well requires a commitment and that often means a commitment of, well, money.  With all the products out there, what are the more important places to invest your resources? While the answer to that may vary depending on your age, skin type and condition and goals, there are some “rules of thumb” that can provide some direction.

Before we start, you should bear in mind:

Sunscreen must always be a part of every skin care program and budget.  SPF should be no less than 30 and may go higher.  Find one made for facial application and make sure it is non-comedogenic (doesn’t clog pores).  Liberal application and re-application is critical.  Mineral-based powdered sunscreens can be applied throughout the day over cosmetics.  These are great after the initial lotion application in the morning.  There are many sunscreens on the market.  Prices range widely.  Find one you like, but you do not need to break the bank.  Expect $30-$35 for a good product made for faces.

The skin’s natural cellular cycle is about six weeks.  Therefore, it will take at least that long for any product to begin to make changes to your skin.

It is important to get the right products.  You need to know not only your goals but your skin’s type (dry, oily, combination, etc.) and condition (acne, aged, sun-damaged, etc.).  Professional guidance is really essential. Sometimes to many of us our skin’s condition may make its type appear other than what it is.  For instance, we frequently see clients who, believing their skin is oily, use products for oily skin.  With continued use, the products dry and irritate the skin.  Their skin begins to produces more oil in an attempt to rejuvenate and heal.  Proper products calm the irritation and produces healthy skin.  A good skin analysis is worth the investment, as is periodic re-analysis.

So, where should you spend your clear skin dollars?

  1.  Cleansing.  Everybody washes their skin.  Cleansers are required to remove cosmetics, dirt and grime and they are then rinsed off the skin.  They should be non-irritating – they should not leave your skin “squeaky clean” – that is dry.  They do not stay on the skin so any ingredients intended to do anything other than clean will be removed most likely long before they will have a chance to work.  Cleansers can get pricey but this isn’t the place to place your cash.


  1. Treatments.  Not everyone uses these, but if you have goals for improving your skin, these are the products that will repair, replenish, plump, tone, brighten and otherwise help you reach your goals (recall your skin’s 6-week cycle…).  Treatments include serums, gels, creams with ingredients such as Vitamin A, retinol, Vitamin C, resveratrol, peptides, and many others.  They are often applied at night while the skin rests and repairs.  Some can be used during the day.  Most, if not all, are layered under the moisturizer, in direct contact with the skin, in order to be most effective.   Note, however, that these are chemicals – even if the product you use is organic and botanically derived – they are still chemicals.  And most work at the skin’s cellular level.  But that is why they work and why you need to use them with the direction of a skincare professional.  These can also get pricey and these products are worth the extra dollars to purchase and the extra effort to use them regularly.


  1. Moisturizers.  Moisturizers are important and should be used morning and evening.  A good, clean product, appropriate for your skin, should be a staple in your routine.  Moisturizers may now come with added antioxidants, retinols, or similar ingredients.  A sunscreen may be  included.  While they are advertised to save time and money by rolling many steps into one, exercise caution.  For instance, moisturizers with retinol or vitamin A should never be used in daylight.  Similarly, sunscreens should not be applied at bedtimes.  In the very least, while these combination moisturizing creams subsume multiple steps, you may find yourself having to purchase two.

There are other products that could support a home-care skin routine, such as toners, masks and peels.  Good to add,  but the ones reviewed really a good place to focus.   Proper skin care does require a commitment of resources – time, effort and money.  With professional support and direction and a little information, you can easily maximize your resources to get the best outcome!


Protein-Packed Zucchini Pancakes


Zucchini-Banana Pancakes


  1. 1 egg yolk
  2. 1 small or 1/2 large zucchini shredded
  3. 1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  4. 1 banana
  5. 3/4 C oats
  6. 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  7. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  8. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  9. splash vanilla
  10. 1/2 C water
  11. blueberries (optional) added to each cake when initially poured on the griddle or added to the stack when done

1. Mix all of the ingredients, except berries, in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy.

2. Cook on medium heat, for 2-3 minutes per side in your favorite healthy oil. I use coconut oil on the pan and wipe off the excess with a paper towel.  Flip when you see the edges start to bubble.  If using blueberries in the pancakes during grilling, allow cakes to remain on the griddle on lower heat to thoroughly cook.

3.Any leftover batter can be prepared and the resulting cakes can be frozen for a later time.

4.  Enjoy!

How Can You Reduce the Sugar In Your Diet?

Avoid Processed Carbohydrates

One big reason that you crave sugar in the first place is due to low blood sugar levels. If your sugar level is crashing, it won’t be long before you are on a mad hunt through the pantry or fridge for some simple carbohydrates.

If you avoid processed carbohydrates and base your meals around high-fiber foods, protein rich foods, and healthy fats, you can avoid the blood sugar low problem. If you eat 5 grams of fat per meal, it will go a long way towards controlling your blood glucose levels.

Make Sure Your Breakfast Includes Hit of Protein

Many “go-to” breakfast cereals, bars and pancakes are mostly carbohydrates and sugar.  Shift that focus and break your daily fast with protein.  Think: cheese, eggs and some grains (oats, quinoa, etc.).  No longer maligned, a hard-boiled egg is an on-the-go protein-packed breakfast.

Prioritize Sleep

Next, also make sure that you are prioritizing your sleep. Those who don’t sleep enough at night will have a much higher chance of craving sugar the next day. Your body will be sensing the energy shortage and your brain knows very well sugar serves as a great pick-me-up.

Here again, stop the problem where it starts. Get more sleep and you’ll never feel tired and sluggish in the first place.

Try L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine is one supplement that you may want to consider using if you’re really struggling from sugar-rich cravings. Glutamine can help to balance out blood sugar levels, preventing the need to consume sugar.

L-Glutamine is also a great supplement to take for immune system enhancement, so it can serve multiple purposes at once.

Get A Brisk Walk In

Exercise is also a great way to combat sugar cravings and burn calories at the same time. If you get hit with a sugar craving, head out for a brisk 10 minute walk. This will get the blood pumping and can kill that craving in a hurry.

Stuck in the office?  Walk to the restroom (not to the vending machines) and wash your hands.  Keep in your drawer a lotion with your favorite fragrance.  A little aromatherapy can get your mind off the craving.

Stop And Focus On Your Food

Finally, make sure when you are eating, you are focusing strictly on the foods you eat. Take the time to think about the appearance, smell, taste and texture of the foods.   And chew well.  You should chew each bite 20-25 times before swallowing.  This will aid digestion, help you to stay present while eating, and enable your body to feel satiety and prevent over-eating.  This will help you gain a new appreciation for how they taste and can help you move some of the focus from getting that sugar-fix to nourishing your body.

Study Finds Acupuncture Does a Great Job with Seasonal Allergies

Source: Annals of Internal Medicine

Researchers recently investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of seasonal allergy symptoms. More than 400 people who qualified as having allergic nasal symptoms or pollen allergies were divided into three groups: one that received 12 acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines, one that received 12 fake acupuncture treatments and took antihistamines, and a third that only took antihistamines, but did not receive acupuncture treatment.

The findings suggest that those participants who received acupuncture reported an improvement in allergy symptoms and a decrease in their use of medication in comparison to volunteers who did not receive acupuncture treatments. The study suggests that acupuncture treatment can help improve symptoms for people suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis.


Spring is a happy time. Nature comes alive! Flowers emerge in long forgotten corners of your garden. The birds return and sing so loudly they wake you in the morning.  This is not a time to be irritable, frustrated or angry, but according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, these emotions are exactly what you can expect if you don’t balance your wood element.

In TCM, spring is represented by the element wood. Wood represents birth and newness, the time for fresh ideas and new starts. Unsurprisingly, its color is green like the fresh growth of spring.

Wood governs your spine, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. A wood imbalance can lead to spinal problems, poor flexibility or arthritis.  Most important for your mood, wood governs your liver. Your liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (vital life force or energy) and smooth flowing Qi means health and vitality. The emotion associated with your liver is anger. If your liver is imbalanced your Qi will be disrupted and you’ll be angry.

Healthy (and happy) spring acupuncture practices mean balancing your wood element and caring for your liver.

Healthy Spring Acupuncture Practices

Try these spring acupuncture recommendations, to keep your wood element balanced and your liver healthy.

  • Cleanse. Cleaning your colon releases accumulated toxins, undigested food, parasites and fungi. With a clean colon your digestion is more efficient and your body is healthier.
  • Detox your liver. Reduce or eliminate alcohol or drugs that are toxic to your liver. Consider a detox that specifically targets your liver. Check with us for information on available detoxes.
  • Stretch. Start or recommit to a healthy stretching routine. Try yoga, Tai ChiQi Gong, or other exercises that move, loosen and flex your joints.
  • Exercise your eyes. Massage your face, especially around your eyes. Roll your eyes and move them in figure 8s. Practice focusing on distant objects and then focusing on close objects in quick succession. Put time limits on your computer sessions. These exercises strengthen your eyes and can improve your eyesight.
  • Control your anger. Create a healthy anger management plan. Journal, meditate or get counseling. Put limits on stressful situations. Find activities that refocus your anger in healthy ways. High expectations and unrealistic planning can lead to frequent disappointment. Reassess your expectations and plans and consider a more gentle approach during this time of year.

Healthy Spring Acupuncture Diet

Follow these tips for a healthy spring diet that supports your liver.

  • Eat light. Overeating taxes your liver.
  • Eat greens. Sprouts, wheatgrass, spinach, kale and dandelions are particularly good foods in the spring.
  • Eat sour? Sour is the flavor associated with spring, however sour flavors are only recommended for certain constitutions. Instead of dousing your greens with vinegar or lemon juice dressings, consult with me to find out what flavors are best for you.
  • Drink milk thistle tea. Milk thistle detoxes your liver.
  • Season your food. Pungent spices like basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill and bay leaf are excellent for spring cooking—and they taste good!

By keeping your wood element balanced and your liver healthy you will experience more happiness. You’ll feel vital, flexible and clear. If you have questions about healthy spring acupuncture practices feel free to call us for recommendations.


Meditative Breathing In Traffic


meditative breathing in traffic by acupuncture silver spring

Traffic is a funny thing.  It happens in the DC at all times of day and it makes us tense up, grow angry, maybe even lash out as we begin to risk running late to our destination.  While we can do little to abate the traffic, it tends to leave us tense and stressed as we sit watching the clock and knowing we are running later and later and later…..  The only thing we can ever really change is how we react to it.  Smooth the stress and tension with meditative breathing.

Mediative Breathing is very useful when you need to be calm and alert to your surroundings. It is the kind of breathing used by martial artists and athletes in stressful situations.  Here are some simple steps for using Meditative Breathing in traffic:

Prep for the Drive ~   When you first start your car but before driving off,  bring your awareness to your Center Point … that place an inch or two below your navel.  Keep your attention there for a few slow, deep breaths.  By the time your car is ready to go, you will be too, just a little calmer than usual.

In this area, of course, it is always helpful to begin your trip with a margin of time to allow for some traffic congestion.  So, where possible, allow for it.

Breathe ~  As the traffic builds, begin:

Step 1: Keep your eyes open and let your eyes relax, like when you’re looking at a candle flame.

Step 2: Become aware of your breath: letting it become slower, longer and deeper.

Step 3: If traffic is completely stopped: keep taking … long … slow … deep breaths … but now start to count them. See how many you can count before you start to get fidgety. When that happens … start from one again. Enjoy this little game to see how many long … slow … deep breaths you can take before you have to start over again.

Step 4:  At some point, traffic will be moving again, and you’ll feel even calmer than when you first got into the car.

And that’s how to use Meditative Breathing in traffic.

Sweet and Nutritious, Stress Reducing Smoothie


- 1 banana (you can freeze peeled banana chunks beforehand, especially if you like your smoothie very cold like I do)

- 1 orange
- 1 cup (240 g) of frozen mixed berries
- 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds
- 1 apple (if you have frozen apples slices, then it’s even better)
- 1 cup (not packed) frozen spinach (or a couple of frozen chunks if you buy them from a freezer section of any supermarket)
- splash of any organic prepared tropical juice (e.g. pineapple, mango)



1. Put frozen spinach into blender first and puree.

2. Add all of the other ingredients one by one so you don’t overload the machine.

3. Blend until it reaches a smooth consistency. Add extra juice to change its thickness if required.

4. Pour into glasses and serve. (I usually place extra glasses in the frig to grab for snacks)

Why it is Stress – Reducing?

Because it contains the following ingredients:

Spinach: 1 cup of spinach provides 40% of your needed daily intake of Magnesium that may reduce or prevent headaches and general fatigue.
Oranges: 1 orange provides around 40 g of vitamin C- vital for boosting our immune system and for reducing cortisol levels and blood.
Berries: Berries are full of antioxidants and vitamins, especially vitamin C. Both antioxidants and vitamin C are found to be stress-reducing.
Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are little powerhouses of nutrition that decrease the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood by 7-14%.
Bananas: Bananas are known as a great source of potassium, a vital mineral that regulates blood pressure, Manganese and Vitamin B6, which help to produce serotonin – the hormone of happiness and feeling good.

American Heart Association Points to 10 Stress Relieving Habits

Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress. Here are 10 positive healthy habits you may want to develop.stress management

  1. Talk with family and friends.
    A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys and ask them to share theirs.
  2. Engage in daily physical activity.
    Regular physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.
  3. Embrace the things you are able to change.
    While we may not be able to do some of the things we once enjoyed, we are never too old to learn a new skill, work toward a goal, or love and help others.
  4. Remember to laugh.
    Laughter makes us feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when we’re alone.
  5. Give up the bad habits.
    Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase blood pressure. If you smoke, decide to quit now. If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  6. Slow down.
    Try to “pace” instead of “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done without having to rush.
  7. Get enough sleep.
    Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.
  8. Get organized.
    Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.
  9. Practice giving back.
    Volunteer your time or spend time helping out a friend. Helping others helps you.
  10. Try not to worry.
    The world won’t end if your grass isn’t mowed or your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to do these things, but right now might not be the right time.

And What Is Yoga Teacher Training Really Like?

Read one student’s view of the Yoga Teacher Training at  Blue Heron Wellness Yoga  ….

It’s the new year.  The time when we are bombarded with messages convincing us to make some sort of change in our lives.  Take on something new.  Progress.  Transform.  Turn over a new leaf.  And whether you are taken to making specific “resolutions” or not, the very ideas of experiencing growth, beginning new journeys, and gaining insight seems not only appealing but natural and expected in our lives — whether we actively seek out new paths or simply recognize those moments changes are taking place (as they always are!) and “go with the flow” in the midst of our movement.
If you’re still reading this, it may be that whatever I’ve written thus far has resonated, or maybe you’re just interested in seeing where this line of thinking is heading in light of what you may be considering about pursuing yoga teacher training program at Blue Heron.  I can’t tell you “Yes, you should take the leap and sign up for teacher training.”  I can, however, share a little bit about my experiences in the program in 2013 should they serve as food for thought as you consider next steps and how you may want to share your yoga with others.
I recently wrote a new year’s blog post on my yoga website titled “This is what it sounds like” -  - It was thematically structured (in part) around a yoga playlist, the songs of which provided some representation as to the meaning I was seeking from all of the different stories that left some mark on me as viewed from my (albeit often surreal) social media window.  On another level, the post was a bigger picture reflection on all that led to where I stood in the new year — with everything that came before and visions for the future.  And, like my practice has gifted me, the appreciation for those moments that I was simply “in it,” with awareness of the constant flow of change that was around me.  The songs and stories were echoes from the diverse range of voices of the people who brought me to this new “now.”
There were twelve woman who were teachers in training in our 2013 Blue Heron group (or “kula” as the lovely Cindy so wonderfully bestowed upon our collective); two amazing, knowledgable and devoted lead teachers; and various guest teachers who led parts of our training and whose insights, instruction and passion in specific areas were remarkable.  As I think back to all of the different readings, discussions, practices, reflections, and teachings, I can clearly recall (at least one!) memory of each of their voices that offered a new ring of truth to my ears, a resonance of inspiration, or a powerful (and much-needed) call of challenge to my practice or way of thinking.
The training experience helped me find my own voice as I began the exciting and intimidating entry into teaching after graduation.  After finishing the program, the voices of my beautiful students, my fellow teachers at the wonderful studio where I am honored to teach, and the greater yoga community in our area (and beyond) joined the chorus that sings to me every day and continues to influence my practice and teaching both on and off the mat as I enter every new “now.”
If you are interested in learning more about my yoga journey or joining me for one of my classes, you can find me at  I wish you all the best in the new year as you welcome whatever changes are to come.  And I am also honored to share another voice from the 2013 class, Theresa Preston, a woman whose grace and wisdom continues to inspire me as we stay connected along our yoga journeys.
All my best,
Kathleen Reynolds

Spiced Nuts ~ Perfect Nibble for the Winter Solstice

Sweet, warm and fragrant with spices, this spiced nut recipe is the perfect accompaniment for the winter solstice.  This time of year is made for hunkering down with a great book, a cup of tea, and a comforting snack.  So take a few minutes to make these sweet nuts, enjoy their fragrance while they are roasting, and then wrap up in your favorite quilt and relax!

Sugar and Spice Nuts

3 egg whites

2 tablespoons water

3 cups walnut halves

2 cups pecan halves

1 cup whole unblanched almonds

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites and water until frothy. Add nuts; stir gently to coat. Combine the remaining ingredients. Add to nut mixture and stir gently to coat. Spread into two greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans. Bake, uncovered, at 300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool. Store in an airtight container.