Beauty on a Budget

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

What have we learned by surviving the recession, the housing market meltdown, unemployment rates in the double digits, and a volatile political season?

Our family has learned that you can do more with less. We have learned to prioritize what’s really important and that most of the “stuff” of life is not really important, especially if you’re buying it because of the brand, the label, or the promises made.

We have learned that simple is best, in all things.

One of the biggest money wasters (besides the weight loss industry) is the beauty industry. While I wish more women would simply be happier with who they are in their natural state, beauty is one place where simple is best.

Stand in the shampoo aisle at the store sometime and read the ingredients. You’ll find there’s not much difference between the one you pay $8-10 for and the one you can get for $1.29. But it’s not just the shampoo where you can save money and shop smart. There are many natural beauty solutions that don’t cost anything and work way better than the $30-per-ounce wrinkle cream you think you need.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Sunscreen. If you really want to prevent aging, protect your skin from too much sun exposure with the use of sunscreen. I don’t believe in buying the uber-expensive made-for-your-face, $30-for-five-ounces sunscreen, either. I buy sunscreen made for babies…it’s the gentlest you can buy and much cheaper per ounce than the fancy stuff.

2. Vaseline. Skip the expensive moisturizers and wrinkle creams and use vaseline. It’s very inexpensive per ounce, can be used safely around your eyes, on your neck, and even on your feet (lather your feet in vaseline, slip sandwich baggies over them, then tube socks. You’ll never need a pumice stone again). Vaseline also makes a great lip gloss, and you can treat your hands the same way you treat your feet if they get rough in the dry winter air.

3. Olive oil. Not just a delicious salad dressing condiment, olive oil is perfect for home manicures (soak your fingers in a small amount of olive oil to treat the cuticles, strengthen nails, and moisten your fingers). Olive oil is also the perfect deep conditioner for your hair.

4. Baking soda and peroxide. Two of the cheapest ingredients on earth combine to create the perfect teeth whitener and breath freshener. This inexpensive concoction also works to replace nasty chemical cleaners in your home.

5. Obsessing over removing every scrap of hair permanently from your body is pricey. Instead, save laser, electrolysis, and waxing for very visible or troubling spots, and do home waxing or shaving on the rest.

6.  Rely on natural, easily available ingredients for home spa treatments: honey and sugar makes a great facial scrub, coffee grounds work better than any store-bought treatment to minimize cellulite, lemon juice is an excellent astringent.


The best beauty regimen doesn’t take money. Drink water, exercise, and eat right. Fruits and veggies are full of the vitamins and minerals that keep your skin healthy and your cells strong; water helps flush toxins from your body to keep you looking your best, and exercise keeps you youthful. Oh – and the best way to prevent wrinkles?


Maintain Realistic Expectations to Avoid Losing Motivation

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

No matter where your starting point might be, everyone seems to have the goal of fast weight loss. We live in an immediate gratification, want-it-now society, so it’s easy to start believing the hype and then being disappointed when the magic weight loss pill didn’t work or the overnight weight loss diet left you rebounding to an even higher weight.  We all would prefer fast, easy weight loss.

Unfortunately, rapid weight loss isn’t lasting weight loss, and making changes to your health that last a lifetime doesn’t happen over night.

The magic pill doesn’t really work the way it says it will; the fad diet won’t give you the body or the health you seek.

You might want to lose 12 pounds a week, but it’s safer – and easier to keep off – one or two pounds per week. Ask yourself how long it took to gain the weight…and expect it to take just as long to lose it.

Weight loss survival tips:

  • Don’t focus on pounds lost; focus on increasing your energy levels and decreasing your stress
  • Focus on getting up and moving – are you sitting on the couch right now? Get up!
  • Focus on what you eat and why, making everything you consume a conscious choice and not mindless eating

You can achieve your goals, whether to lose weight, build your business, or manage stress more effectively. Stop expecting overnight perfection and start enjoying your journey.

12 Steps to Achieve Anything You Desire

  1. It begins with a desire. You must have the desire to achieve your goals and be willing to articulate them, if not to the world then at least to yourself.
  2. Positive thinking drives you forward. Positive thinking is the first step to achieving your goals. You must believe that you are capable of achieving what you want to achieve, whether it is more success at work or losing weight. Simply by allowing yourself to have a positive mindset, you will be more motivated.
  3. Take baby steps. Instead of thinking about the final destination, focus on taking the next step. Losing 50 pounds starts by saying no to one cookie.
  4. Get Up. You can make lists, write goals, type up business plans, and dream away your life. At some point, you actually have to get up and take action. Do it.
  5. Don’t Let Fear Control You. It is so easy to let negativity and fear keep you from doing and being who you want to be. The only way to succeed is to get tough – with yourself, with the negative thoughts that invade your mind, with the excuses it gets so easy to make.
  6. Quit looking for overnight success. There are no get-rich-quick schemes. There are no magic diet pills. There are no secrets to success. Everything in life is a journey, so enjoy it.
  7. Let yourself dream. Whether it’s creating a dream board with all the things you will do and have when you reach your business goals or that cute pair of denim shorts you keep to remind yourself of your goal size, let yourself dream often about where you’re headed. It’s the motivator that keeps you moving in the right direction.
  8. Dreams won’t get you all the way there. Dream, yes, but back that dream up with a definitive plan, complete with the steps you need to take to get not just from point A to point B but to every little pitstop along the way.
  9. You are as important as everyone else. You can pretend you don’t know what I mean, but let’s be real: kids, spouses, work, and even just a moment of down time often get placed ahead of you taking the next step toward achieving your goal. Stop that! Every day, you need to remember that your goals are as important as everyone else’s needs and do something to help you get there.
  10. Don’t give up. Real success doesn’t come easily, so don’t give up when it gets tough. Remember, it’s a journey, and journeys are more than just straight lines from here to there…they are way more fun when they meander a bit.
  11. De-clutter your life. Focusing becomes easier when there are less things dragging you down. From removing the junk food from your kitchen cupboards to refraining from buying yet another purse you don’t need, you can find ways to simplify your life and boil it down to what is really important.
  12. Enlist help. Telling other people your dreams is scary, but the people who care for you are your biggest cheerleaders, helping you take the steps you need to take. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you – and stay away from the negative people who cloud up your sunny skies.

Nothing can stop you from achieving your desires…

What are you waiting for?

Weight Loss Plans Are All a Bunch of Hooey and You Know It!

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

People are drawn to get-rich-quick schemes because they’re looking for a shortcut. There are no get-rich-quick schemes that work: getting rich happens from hard work, luck, and more hard work.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, the number of people who are sucked in to the latest diet fad, hoping to short cut the distance between where they are and where they want to be. Diets, like get-rich-quick schemes, don’t work.

You can eat a low-carb, high-protein diet a la Atkins and see short term improvements only to die of a heart attack (like Atkins himself did) from eating too much red meat or bacon.

You can take the South Beach approach and severely restrict carbs, watch your glycemic index, and again, see some fairly extreme weight loss at first. But long-term studies are demonstrating the importance of certain carbs and even certain fats that this diet suggests you avoid.

There’s the soup diet, the cabbage diet, the 7-day diet, the rotation diet.


You want to know how to lose weight?

It’s so simple you won’t believe me, but this is what works:

  1. Eat balanced meals with lots of fruits and veggies.
  2. Indulge yourself occasionally with your favorite treats.
  3. Exercise every day, long enough to burn the calories you consumed plus additional calories.

It’s not a secret. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you can’t take short cuts, buy diet foods, follow someone’s grand expensive plan.

You simply need to get off your ass and close your mouth.

Exercise more. Eat less.

Exercise more.

Eat less.


Is Plastic Surgery A Good Option After Pregnancy?

MomsGetReal Guest Contributor Karlee Wiggins

For many women, there is no greater joy than that which comes with the birth of their child. In the end, the months of leg cramps, swollen ankles, and aching bellies pay off through the creation of a unique human being that is all their own. Pregnancy and child birth can, however, leave mothers with some undesirable “battle scars.” Fortunately, there are some great plastic surgery options that can help rejuvenate women’s bodies and minds after pregnancy. Provided below are descriptive lists of the advantages and disadvantages of those plastic surgery options for post-pregnancy women.

Advantages of Plastic Surgery Post-Pregnancy

  1. Tighten Loose Skin: After pregnancy, many women endure a difficult time restoring the tightness and elasticity of the stretched skin around their stomachs. Abdominoplasty, which is also known as a tummy tuck, is an invasive plastic surgery procedure in which a surgeon tightens the abdominal muscles and removes any unneccessary skin and fat.
  2. Restore Breast Volume and Size: After pregnancy and breastfeeding, many women feel as though their breasts have decreased in volume and/or firmness. Breast augmentation or breast enhancement, in which a plastic surgeon inserts saline or silicone implants above or below a woman’s chest muscles, is a plastic surgery procedure that can restore lost breast volume, firmness, and mass. This is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures today.
  3. Restore Sagging Breasts: After pregnancy and breastfeeding, many women also feel as though their breasts have “sagged.” A breast lift, in which a plastic surgeon removes excess skin and lifts breast tissue, is a plastic surgery procedure that can restore sagging breasts.
  4. Remove Excess Fat: After pregnancy, many women possess a difficult time losing the excess “baby weight” that they had acquired over the preceding months. Liposuction, in which a plastic surgeon removes fatty tissue, is one of the least invasive options for plastic surgery. Liposuction is commonly performed on the thighs, buttocks, upper arms, and stomach.

Disadvantages of Plastic Surgery Post-Pregnancy

  1. Recovery Time: Most plastic surgery procedures are invasive and require women to rest and/or postpone returning to work for at least a few weeks.
  2. Bleeding, Bruising, and Swelling: It is important to note that plastic surgery does not provide women with immediate results. During the recovery process, most women will experience some bleeding, bruising, and/or swelling at their sites of operation.
  3. Infection: Although a rare occurrence, infection of a woman’s operating site can occur. This usually results in a prolonged recovery, increased doctor visits, and antibiotic treatments. It a woman has received breast implants, they may need to be removed and replaced at a later date.
  4. Although plastic surgery can help improve a woman’s self image, it is important to remember that it is not a “quick fix” for her underlying psychological or self-esteem issues.

From tightening loose skin to increasing breast volume, there are many outstanding options for women who wish to improve their physical appearances and self-esteems through plastic surgery. While there are some factors that women should always consider before undergoing any type of surgical procedure, the advantages will almost always outweigh the disadvantages. After all, happy mothers do make happy babies.

Karlee Wiggins blogs about heath topics.  She recently had twins and is looking into plastic surgery options. 

Making Changes for a Healthier Lifestyle

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Change is difficult, especially when it comes to making changes to eating and exercising habits. You can’t just change your eating habits over night.  It has to be a LIFESTYLE change.  When you’re making lifestyle changes, the first thing you have to change is your mind. Change your mind set, then work on your eating and exercise habits.

You can literally eat like a rabbit and still not be healthy.  Health is on the inside, too.  Do you have a strong heart?  How much energy do you have?  What percent is your body fat?  Do you have healthy muscle tone?  Are you limber and flexible?  Are you happy with your life, your job, your path?

Changing your body can take years, and it has to be a total lifestyle change for it to be a permanent change.

When making lifestyle changes, it’s best to make small changes that you can incorporate into your life. When Dave and I first started focusing on health, we cut out using the microwave. All of our research pointed to the microwave as a source of damage to our bodies and our food, and we believe that the dangers of microwaves are a reality. We’ve now been microwave-free for three years, adjusting to reheating food on the stove or in the toaster oven.

The next change we made was to eliminate high fructose corn syrup. It was simply a matter of reading labels and paying attention, sometimes forgoing a favored salad dressing or barbecue sauce. Finding foods without high fructose corn syrup has become easier; Post has come out with an entire line of HFCS-free cereals (Post Good Morenings) at a price point most families can abide by at $2 a pound. With a variety of flavors, Post is the perfect choice for morning cereal eaters. Hunt’s offers ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup. I found a helpful website that lists HCFS-free foods; it’s not entirely up to date, but it’s a start.

Once we’d overcome the high fructose corn syrup, we moved on to tackle trans fats.  Cutting trans fats was the most difficult change, but also the most effective. Cutting trans fats meant skipping fast food meals, paying close attention to food labels, and making more significant changes to our diets. The difference we’ve experienced in the last year since ridding trans fats from our lives has been substantial.

Even though I haven’t seen the kind of change on the scale that I wanted – mostly due to my own lack of ability to regularly prioritize exercise as much and as often as I should – removing trans fats from my diet has most likely saved my life. You see, my family history for heart disease is pretty lengthy. My great-grandmother died during an Angioplasty. My mother’s uncle died of a heart attack at age 40. Her other uncles have all had multiple heart attacks and bypass procedures. Her mother had a heart attack at age 50 and died of complications related to heart disease. My mother, who was ill with leukemia, actually died from congestive heart failure brought on by the chemo. My uncle has had a heart attack, and he is young and health.

Last year, in the midst of making changes but still struggling, I had a C-reactive protein (CRP) test. You really want your results to be <1.00. Mine was 7.85. As in, wow, you haven’t had a heart attack yet?

So we really went to work on cutting out trans fats. We switched to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter for cooking, because it has no trans fats. We stopped – literally stopped – eating fast food. I’ve not had a cheeseburger from Burger King or McDonalds in more than a year. This year, I had a repeat of the CRP test.

It is now a 3.45.

I’m still high risk, and I still have a long road ahead of me to achieve the health I want…but I have CUT IN HALF my risk of heart attack or stroke.

Cut it in half!

I’m not worried about the number on the scale; I’m not beating myself up for not getting on the treadmill every morning.

I am going to continue to tackle my changes one at a time, making changes I can incorporate into my life.

If you’re ready to make some changes, here are some easy ones to start with:

  • Watch how many of your calories come from fat and how many calories you consume in total. Make sure less than 10% of your calories come from fat and that the fat you consume is not trans fat or saturated fat. Not only can this make a difference on the scale but it can do wonders for your cholesterol and heart disease risk.
  • Cut out fast food as much as possible and make better choices when you do go (we rely on Eat This, Not That to help guide us)
  • Cut out simple carbs (chips, white breads, etc) and replace them with high fiber (brown rice, whole grains)
  • Add exercise, any exercise. Walk to the store. Dance to music. Hop on a treadmill. Go for a walk with a friend. Park further away from the office, or better yet, get a bike. Get active!  Do you normally rent movies on Saturday night?  Go bowling instead.  Do you spend Sunday lying in bed reading the paper?  Get up and go to the park.  Walk, feed the ducks, play frisbee with your dog (he needs exercise too!)  It’s winter??  Go out in your own back yard and build a snowman!
  • Meditate. Lowering your stress levels can do wonders for everything from your blood pressure to your weight, not to mention your mind and clarity of thought.
  • Eat breakfast every single day.
  • Sleep at night (with the phone, laptop, tablet, and mind OFF)

Don’t try to completely change overnight.  If all you’ve done for exercise for the last year or more is heave the remote control,  start slowly and build up.  And remember, if your mind does not accept the change in lifestyle, you will not be successful.  Change as you can, and make the changes permanent.  Burning energy creates energy, so when you use it, you’ll have more.  The more you use, the more you lose.

All life needs balance, and balance comes from feeding and exercising the mind as well as the body.

  • Feed the mind a healthy diet: read, observe, listen, think.  Read fiction and non-fiction, for the mind learns from both.  Exercise the mind with creativity-draw, write, paint, sculpt, play music.  Be creative.
  • For your mind (and your soul) keep a journal.  Write a few thoughts at the end of the day, or the end of the week.  Speak freely, and keep it locked.  This is only for you, to get to know yourself and examine your priorities.

The key to being really healthy is to be happy and content with your life.  The more you take care of and love yourself, the happier and healthier you’ll be.

A Month of Health Articles – on a Mom Site?

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

I am participating in National Health Blog Post Month. We write about health a lot on MomsGetReal, even though it’s not a health or medical site. Why? Because moms have the power to set the example for their kids, and because moms are the best at helping other moms. From body image to living a healthy lifestyle, it all begins at home. It is important to talk about.

Writing about my health allows me to share some of my struggles – from weight loss issues to early menopause from having a hysterectomy at 37 to making healthy lifestyle changes – and encourage others to make small changes that have a big impact.

I hope you’ll check in each day to see what we’re talking about…and if you’d like to contribute your own health article to MomsGetReal, we’ll be accepting submissions all month!

I’m grateful to WEGO Health for encouraging a dedicated focus on health!

What are your health goals?

Women’s Health Alert! Girls’ Night Out Is Good for You

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Not everything you choose do to benefit your health requires you to get sweaty, breathe heavy, or worry about whether or not you are hitting your target heart rate.  One of the best things women can do for their health – something that will benefit your physical health as well as your mental and emotional health – is a girls’ night out.

Connecting with other women is important to your health. Girl’s night out isn’t always a late-night bar scene; some of my favorite girl’s night out moments are actually no further away than the back porch of a friend’s house with wine.

Yes, you need to eat right and exercise, but connection and conversation make a huge difference too.  Study after study has demonstrated that women who spend time connecting with other women  are not only happier but live longer and are more likely to survive stressful periods of their life. Time with our girlfriends offer a healthy dose of self-esteem, because our girlfriends love us no matter who we are.

When you’re busy working, raising a family, and being a good wife, girlfriends sometimes go by the wayside, but that’s when the women in your life actually become even more critical to your health. Whether it’s having someone you can vent to about the stress of being everything to everyone or just need to be with someone who understands that even though you love your life you sometimes wish you were still the free-wheeling 20-something who smoked cigars and drank wine by the bottle, your girlfriends are important.

It’s ok for your husband and your kids to miss you and learn to survive without you. It will teach them to appreciate you and give them time to bond with Dad. If you are a single mom, hire a sitter or reach out to family – but don’t make excuses that keep you from enjoying girls’ night out.

Do something good for your health this weekend: leave your kids with your husband, your mom, or yes, a girlfriend…and get out for girls’ night out.

Women’s Health: The Smoking Risk

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause or peri-menopause and have decreased estrogen production face increases in their risk of developing major diseases like osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. Smoking exacerbates the risk significantly.  Women smokers are 12 times more likely to die from lung cancer, but women who smoke also face an increased chanced of getting another form of cancer (uterine, cervical, kidney, lymphoma, leukemia).  Women who smoke are two to four times more likely to have a stroke and the risk of heart attack rises dramatically.  More than 90% of people who die from COPD (chronic obstructive lung disease) are smokers.

You can change your eating habits, exercise regularly, and lose weight, but if you smoke you still face more health risks than a woman of the same age who is 100 pounds over weight.

Cigarettes are very addictive. Quitting can be tough, but it is the single most important effort you can make to improve your health.

There is help available!

Most employers will pay for smoker cessation classes, and health departments often offer smoking cessation courses for little cost. The government has a smoking cessation website with more information to help you quit.

If you can succeed in quitting, your lungs will immediately be healthier. After 10 years smoke-free, you no longer will have an increased risk for stroke. Your life expectancy will increase (smoking takes an immediate ten years off your life).

If you are finding it difficult to quit for yourself, consider quitting for the important people in your life. Second-hand smoke is deadly to the people who are around you when you smoke, and now they are finding that third-hand smoke (the particles that are embedded in your clothing, carpet, and walls) contain the same carcinogens as the smoke you inhale. If your baby crawls on the carpet inside the home where you smoke, he is at risk too.

The simple truth is smoking shortens your life and reduces the quality of life you have remaining.

Isn’t it time?

4 Steps You Can Take NOW to Improve Heart Health

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States.  There are two main types of heart disease: hypertension (high blood pressure) and arteriosclerosis (blocked arteries).  High blood pressure makes the heart to work too hard to deliver blood to the body, and blocked arteries keep blood from reaching the heart. When blood can’t get to the muscle cells of the heart, they die.  Blocked arteries are often the cause of heart attacks.

If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or you are more than 20 pounds overweight, you may be at increased risk for heart disease. If you smoke, your risk is far higher.  You can quickly reduce your risk of having a heart attack by quitting smoking, changing your eating habits, exercising more, and reducing your stress.

It is important to know the signs of a heart attack, but even more important to realize that women do not often have the traditional symptoms of a heart attack.  While you should never ignore chest pain, if you are having  pain in the neck or shoulder, or pain radiating up the neck, or even if you simply feel suddenly nauseous and out of breath, do not ignore your body’s communication. It’s better to get checked out than ignore a life-threatening episode.

The best way to avoid heart disease is by improving your diet. Reduce your fat intake and eliminate trans fats from your diet. Add more fiber by eating plenty of fruits and veggies and switching to whole grains. Reduce your sodium intake and eat two to three servings of heart-healthy fish each week.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time to exercise, small bouts of exercise can be very effective at improving your health. The most recent studies show that women who jog or walk rapidly for even ten minutes can have a dramatic impact on their health and heart.

If you believe you are having a heart attack, call 9-1-1. While waiting for the ambulance, put an aspirin under your tongue. This can help protect your heart until emergency personnel arrive by thinning the blood so that it can pass through partially blocked arteries. You should also force yourself to cough, as coughing compresses the chest to keep your heart pumping.

Learn more about protecting your health at the American Heart Association.