Good Health: Major Benefits of Doing What You Love

By AwalFitness

There’s an old saying: do what you love, and the money will follow. I say: do you what you love, and your health will follow. Am I saying that the right job will keep you illness-free? No. As I type, I’m in the process of dealing with a nasty chest cold. But it’s the first bad bug I’ve had in about five months – a new record for me! And I have yet to call out of work for it. Yay!


If you knew me during my med tech days, you would be itching to high five me right now. You would recall all the times I called out in a year for a chest cold, the flu, allergies, sinus infections – all the foes of the upper respiratory system. I have had asthma since birth, so I’ve never been a stranger to a tight chest and clogged sinuses. But ten years of working in Blood Services were filled with the crappiest health of my life. A major part of it was being in such an enclosed space with bodily material all day. Fun stuff. But I really believe a big part of it was stress and overall unfulfillment. I am a people person who thrives on communicating with others. Even in my years working in the lab, I would find myself spending minutes – maybe too many – chatting with coworkers about all life’s little intricacies.  But my people skills were not advancing me in my career in any way. At the end of almost every work day, I would leave feeling as if I had not done enough. And the busier the work day, the more unaccomplished I felt.


Now the opposite is true. As a full time trainer, my job is to talk to people all day, figure out what their fitness goals are, and work with them to achieve them. In addition, when I’m not working at the gym, I’m working out at the gym with some of the top trainers in the city. So I get to do what I love and what I do well all day. Winning! There have been days in which I had back-to-back clients lined up for hours, then went home feeling super accomplished. Every time I train someone, I’m instrumental in changing a person’s life for the better. A decade of testing and processing blood for sick people was great, but I never saw the people I was saving. I rarely heard thank you. Plus, I am surrounded by happy people who not only love their job, but also work out constantly. We are all on an endorphin high together! The gratitude, camaraderie, and overall enjoyment I get from doing my job is really improving my mental and physical health. Good work = good life.


Do you love what you do? Comment and share your success story. We would love to hear it!

Good Health: Major Benefits of Doing What You Love

10 Quirky Ways To Save Money

MoneyWith tax season at hand, everyone is looking for ways to keep a little extra money in their pockets. Here are some great ways to get more cash and make it last:

  • Tax breaks are a good way to bring in extra cash and there are a lot of them if you’re able to provide the right paperwork.  Need uniforms for work? They could be a tax write off. The same goes for donating clothes to good will and moving expenses. It may be too late to cash in on some of these this year, but start saving important tax documents now and you could see a lot more money next year. Want more tax breaks? Check out this site.


  • Learning to make beauty products can be very inexpensive and gives you a lot of creative freedom. You could tailor your products to work best for your particular skin and hair needs and best of all, you know exactly what went into them. No more long ingredients list of odd chemicals you’ve never heard of. Don’t know where to start? Here are some great DIY hair recipes.


  • Maybe you don’t feel like always making your own products. You could also try stretching the ones you have. Add a little water to your shampoo when it starts to get low. It will still provide plenty of suds, and could save you lots of money over time. I also add cheap olive oil to my lotion, but if you prefer to go oil free, you could try using water instead, being careful not to make it too runny. This works best with products that are thick.


  • Another great way to make some extra cash is by throwing “donation” parties. Maybe you’re trying to save up for a house or a car. Enlist friends to help by throwing a party and charging a small fee at the door. For refreshments, you could choose a meal that’s cheap to make in bulk, like spaghetti or pizza. Kool-Aid and water could be the main drinks. Spice it up by making your own punch mixture. You could also ask your friends to bring cheap snacks like chips and popcorn.  Invite enough people and the party will more than pay for itself.


  • For those with kids, at Christmas time and birthdays, check out discount stores.  Mix expensive gifts with “stocking stuffers” to fill up under the tree. Five Below is a great place for finding good cheap gifts. In the past, I have snagged headphones, a remote controlled car, and art supply kits, each for $5 or less.


  • You could take number 5 to the next level by shopping  at discount stores all year round. There are many great retailers that sell discounted name brand clothes, shoes and bags, like Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, and Ross. I have found many great deals on names like Betsy Johnson, Marc New York, and Calvin Klein. Dress in style without the hefty price tag.


  • Carpool to work with friends. You’re both heading to the same place and as a courtesy, you could offer them a little something toward gas so they don’t feel abused.


  • Maybe you don’t know anyone with a car or you want to save on gas money, try taking a bus or train to work. It could cut down on expenses if you buy a monthly pass. I take the subway home from work for $2 a trip and bypass all of the annoying rush hour traffic. Not a fan of crowds? Zone out with a music playlist or good book and the ride will be over before you know it.


  • Learn how to make and fix your own clothes.  In the past, when I’ve gotten a rip or tear, I threw the garment away, but one day I decided to get a cheap sewing kit from RiteAid. It has helped add to the life of my work uniforms and favorite items I  can’t part with. Last winter I also crocheted my own hat and scarf that everyone has complimented me on. You could learn a new skill with possible earning potential if you have the talent.


  • If you feel uncomfortable asking friends and family for money, try asking them for odd jobs instead. An agreement could be made beforehand for the fee of service and both parties could save money.  This could work for moving, babysitting, yard and housework. Charge less than a professional as an enticement, but still leave with a nice bit of extra cash.


Have any more ideas I didn’t list? Tell us about them. We love receiving feedback. Thanks for reading!


Photo credit: free pictures of money via /CC BY

Photo credit: chadmiller via / CC BY-SA

10 Quirky Ways To Save Money

The Benefits of Meal Planning

By Awal

OK, so I haven’t met too many people who would choose to be on a diet. The word “diet” in and of itself has a terrible stigma. It drudges up images of a few sprigs of asparagus on a plain white plate, saying no-no-no-no-no to cheesy yummy slices of pizza, being the kill-joy at the party who passes up the big piece of moist chocolate cake.

Truth: Yes, you do need to load up on veggies, cut back on the greasy food, and make some social sacrifices for your health. But it doesn’t have to be torture. And you do not have to – should not – starve yourself. Promise.


  1. Think about meals differently. With meal planning, you get to eat all day and still see your middle widdle. Plan out five to six meals a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner do not fit into everyone’s schedule. Maybe you work 10-14 hour days with few breaks. But what is a meal, really? A smoothie is a meal. A snack consisting of fruits and nuts is a meal. A cup of yogurt is a meal. There are so many options. Trust me.spicygarlicbroc
  2. Meal planning is great for ending the cycle of skipping meals and indulging in late-night snacking. When should you have these five to six meals? As a general rule, the first meal should be eaten within the first hour of waking up. Get your metabolism revved up to burn fat. A couple of hours later, time for another meal. Keep this going until about two-three hours before bed. Why? When you’re resting, so is your metabolism. If you eat, then go to sleep, your body stores the fat. No bueno. 
  3. You get your water intake. Drink lots of water. Is it a meal? Not really. Do you need it all day? Oh yeah. Dehydration is tricky. It can mask itself as hunger, causing you to reach for all kinds of naughty things to fill the void. Before you grab a second helping of food, drink a few sips of water. Then drink just a few more. Don’t think of a big gallon you have to down in one sitting. Just sip all day. No pressure.
  4. You know what you’re going to eat every day, making it easier to be good. Use the day before the start of your work week as meal prep day. For many people, that day is Sunday. But some people have very nontraditional work schedules. Some people work every day. In that case, pick your least busy work day. Meal prep your heart out. What is meal prepping? Prepare something pretty big that will stay fresh for three to six days, then separate it into easy-to-store containers. I’m a big fan of mason jars. They are easy to clean, look really cute, and are great for posting those “look at my healthy lunch” selfies. What should you make? Soups and stews are excellent warm foods, plus they add to your water intake for the day. Salads are great cold foods. Nuts and dried fruits are wonderful snacks to pack in your book bag or purse. Check out the pics! Nutsandberries
  5. When you start doing all this fancy meal prepping, you can tote your meals around all day. Yay! Confession: I keep a cooler in the trunk of my car. Mmm-hmm. And I keep a reusable ice pack in my freezer. If I’m going to be out of the house and on the road all day, I know I can tote around my homemade salads. Then I’m less likely to stop at a fast food restaurant and pick up something greasy. My cooler was a gift, but a good one would be worth the investment. Think of all the money you could save by not eating out every day. Cha-ching!veggies
  6. You can give yourself a cheat day, but don’t go nuts. Set ground rules for yourself so you don’t end up with a food hangover the next day. If you are not big into counting calories, keep it simple. Tell yourself that you can have an insane lunch, but be good for dinner. If you want to be bad all day, portion control is your friend. Have a couple of hot cakes at breakfast instead of a full stack. Have one piece of pizza for lunch instead of three. Have half of a serving of pasta at your fave Italian restaurant instead of the full load. Eat a cup of ice cream instead of a tub. Trust me. You’ll thank me when you feel pride in place of regret.
  7. It can be as fun and exciting as you make it. Get creative and think long-term. I could totally see you eating mixed greens and baked chicken every day for a whole week, losing a pound or two and feeling awesome about it. But will you do it for four weeks? Four months? Probably not. Research quick meals. is a great resource for recipes galore. Think about what your fave meals are. Even if those meals are “bad”, there can be elements of those meals that will translate into a healthier dish. For example, I love spicy Mexican food. But I know refried beans and flour tortillas are not good for keeping my weight down. So I make a salsa salad with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and peppers. I still use canned corn and beans, but the meal is a healthier alternative. And I eat it with corn tortilla chips. Be careful with those tortilla chips. Try to get low sodium ones. I learned the hard way how much they can cause bloating. And who wants bloating?

beansaladFor more info about how much water you should drink, check out: How to Calculate How Much Water You Should Drink A Day … Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to “like” and comment! It makes our whole day!!!

*This post is not meant to replace any medical treatment or advice prescribed by your doctor. Please consult your physician before drastically changing your diet.

The Benefits of Meal Planning

DIY: Wallet Saving Natural Hair Recipes


DSC01292[1]I have tried many many different hair products throughout my natural hair journey with mixed results. The common denominator between all of them was the hefty ingredient list on the back. Even the ones that claimed to be completely natural and paraben-free had some chemical looking names toward the end of the list.

I wanted to simplify my hair regimen, so I started looking for recipes made from a few inexpensive ingredients. The first one I tried was a leave-in conditioner I found here along with a few other lovely recipes I have yet to try.

Coconut Aloe Leave-In Conditioner


4 oz (or ½ cup) of aloe vera juice
6 oz (or ¾ cup) of coconut water
6 drops of honeysuckle essential oil

1. Pour all the ingredients into a spray bottle.
2. Place the sprayer onto the bottle and gently shake to mix all the ingredients together.
3. Store in a refrigerator until ready for use.  Best used on damp, freshly washed hair.

I also used it on dry hair to redistribute moisture. I feel like sometimes it left a slight grittiness to my hair, but I was also trying out flax seed gel at the same time, which may have added to the grit factor. I have since simplified the recipe to aloe vera juice and any essential oil of choice (my favorite is lemongrass oil, perfect if you don’t mind smelling like lemons all day). This modified recipe has helped me retain moisture throughout the day and significantly helps with my detangling process.

The next recipe I tried was a deep conditioner. I can’t find the website where I originally discovered the recipe but Naptural85’s video on the process helped make this next homemade hair product one of my favorites.

Avocado and Banana Deep Conditioner


1 cup water

1/2 of 1 Banana

1/2 of 1 Avocado



  1. Slice up half of one banana for smoother blending. Add to a blender cup with 1/2 cup of water. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Strain the banana puree into a clean bowl. (Do not skip this step, otherwise you will have bits of banana stuck in your hair. Trust me, it happened to me the first time before I watched the video. I do not have a strainer, so I used cheap pantyhose I got on sale from RiteAid, 2 for $1; a trick I learned from Naptural85’s Flax Seed Gel video.)
  3. Slice up half of one avocado. Add to the blender cup with 1/2 cup of water. Blend until smooth. Strain into the same bowl with the strained banana puree.
  4. Use a spoon to mix the banana and avocado together.
  5. Apply the mixture to clean hair (I used a condiment bottle I got from the dollar store for easier application). Cover hair with a plastic cap for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Rinse hair thoroughly.
  7. Condition and style as desired.

(If you’re a fan of avocado and banana, try mixing the rest of your ingredients together with a little water to make a simple smoothie. It’s pretty delicious and nutritious.)

The last of the staples I’m currently using is another recipe that I found on Naptural85’s Youtube channel. I use it to seal in moisture and define my curls. The process can be found here. I did not follow her recipe exactly, but the general idea is to use liquid oils to soften the shea butter.

Whipped Shea Butter


5 oz Raw, Unrefined Shea Butter

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

2 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

2 tbsp Olive Oil

Optional- A few drops of your favorite essential oil



  1. Bring the Shea Butter to room temperature, so it is soft and easy to manipulate but not runny.
  2. Sit the shea butter in a bowl and use a mixer to get it to a creamy consistency.
  3. Slowy add the other oils while continuing to mix the shea butter until you have added all the remaining ingredients
  4. The finished result should be smooth, fluffy and lump free. (The consistency of mine was kind of gritty, but when I rubbed it between my palms, it became completely smooth and translucent.)
  5. Apply over leave-in conditioner to seal in moisture and help add definition to your style.
  6. Keep in a cool, but not cold place. The mixture will harden in cold temperatures, but can be resoftened and rewhipped if need be.


I hope to add to this list over time. I have also tried a coconut milk deep conditioner, but it was too runny and flax seed gel, but it left my hair with a dry crunchy feeling. I will probably revisit these two recipes and modify them to suit my natural hair needs.

Do you have any hommade hair recipes you have tried and like? Tell me about them and I will try them out. Thanks for reading.


Model: Charlie Dorrie (me)

Photo Credit: Charlie Dorrie



DIY: Wallet Saving Natural Hair Recipes

How To: Super Defined Twistout


1. Wash and condition hair, rinse out product thoroughly, generously distribute leave-in conditioner of choice, keep hair under plastic cap for 20 minutes for improved absorption.

2. Do not detangle wet hair. Put hair dryer on high. Take a small section of hair, hold tightly stretched out, hit it with heat until dry. Repeat until all of your hair is dry or very slightly damp.  (Here is a video of the technique, though a hair dryer attachment is not needed)

3. Twist hair into two-strand twists, detangle the ends as you go. Leave in for at least 48 hours to define the curls. Not a fan of twists? Try sitting under a hooded dryer for 45 mins on low heat to help your twists set faster. Generally, the longer you leave them in, the longer they last. Spray oil on hair nightly.

4. Apply Shea Butter to finger tips, twist out hair. Take your time and do not separate curls for maximum definition. Curls will loosen over time. Style as desired!

Model: Ashley W. from Awal Fitness

Photo Credit: Ashley W.



How To: Super Defined Twistout