Going International: Apartment Hunting in Playa Del Carmen

Thinking about moving abroad? 

You're going to want to put Playa Del Carmen, Mexico on your short list of places to consider.

There's nothing like moving some place where you already have friends. It make the transition soooo much easier. Come visit Playa del Carmen and learn what we already know. It's the most LIT place to be in the Riviera Maya if you're an expat seeking just the right balance of kicking it, wellness, and adventure!

Where are you thinking of moving to? Drop a comment below or hit my line on Youtube or IG.

Wellness Wednesday: What I Wish I Knew Before Using the Diva Cup

I started using the Diva Cup after coming back from the Philippines where I was super concerned that I would not be able to swim and island hop because my cycle was starting. I was having a hard time finding tampons, because culturally, it’s sometimes not common for women to use them in other countries. Also, I was super concerned about swimming in water that was unfamiliar with a tampon after reading something in a travel group about a girl that contracted Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) after swimming with a tampon.  

I told myself that when I got back to the States I would explore some alternatives, and the first product I picked up was the Diva Cup. I was warned by a fellow traveler that there was a severe learning curve that came from using it, and that was definitely my experience. There were a number of other things that I wish I would’ve known prior to using, and also some feelings I didn't expect to feel about using this product.

For one, I am very comfortable with my body and very familiar with it both inside and out. Soooo… I didn’t really think it was possible to know it any better than I already do. But my Diva Cup experience proved me wrong. And I’ll come back to explain this point further in a minute.

On IG, more than 60% of the women I polled responded that they have used the Diva cup or alternate menstruation products. But nearly 40% have not. So, I’m just going to give you a quick overview:

The Diva cup is made of silicone and come in two basic sizes— before birth and after. The one I have is the pre-birth size. My first month and second month using it, I had vastly different experiences. Here why and here’s a few things I wish I would have known.

Now, some of this, was probably impossible to know until I experienced it, but some of it really would've been helpful is someone would've given me a heads up. I watched a lot of Youtube videos, and some of what I experienced just never came up. So anyways… here it goes. 

What I Wish I Knew Before Using the Diva Cup  |  The Sassy Nation

My experience:

After reading all of the directions I popped the cup in on the first try with no real problems. Getting it out the next morning, however, was a severe challenge, even though it was not too far in there. A couple of the problems were that:

[ONE]

Although, my nails were shorter, they were square, which made me feel like I was pinching myself while trying to remove the cup. SUPER uncomfortable, traumatizing and concerning because vaginal tears are not cute and could lead to infection.

As a result, I made sure to scrub in like I was about to perform a surgery each and every time I had to go in there. However, now that my nails are longer, they are actually round/almond shaped, and not nearly as dangerous, apparently. I think it’s a combination of using a better technique and also being more relaxed and patient. 

You have to reeeally be both relaxed and patient with your body and this foreign-ass object. I didn’t attempt to remove in the shower this month, because I’m in Mexico, so I don’t have the luxury of endless hot water like at home for one. Also, from trial and error, I just know the path of least resistance is for me to sit on the toilet. I do insert it standing, post shower sometimes. Although, you can shower with it (and I have) the timing to change just happens to coincide with my twice a day shower schedule, in most cases. 

[TWO] 

The directions said to use your forefinger and thumb to pull the cup out when full. My forefinger simply is not long enough, agile enough, nor strong enough to grip it properly— which probably contributed to a lot of grasping, missing and pinching last month. I'm happy to report all 3 are down by at least 95%. This month I actually forgot about that little rule and intuitively decided to use my middle finger and thumb, which made removal sooo much easier. Like Gawd!! So much better!!!

[THREE]

The directions said that you could leave it in for up to 12 hours. I call bullshit, if you have a heavy flow. My max was about 5 hours until leakage during my heavy days. That's not terrible, but I think the whole 12 hour thing set up a false expectation in my mind, that there would be no leakage for 12 hours. Which, therefore, made me feel like maybe I was not doing something right because it kept leaking, and I had to remove and readjust it often. The first time worked perfectly with no leaking for at least 8 hours as I slept. So the 2-3 days after was quite frustrating.

[FOUR]

The second month, again just relying on intuition, I said let me use a liner with this thing whenever I’m out— just in case. You might think that this should've been common sense, but it wasn't because of another false expectation that it wasn’t supposed to leak (which it actually doesn’t when inserted properly and not at maximum capacity). The first month I was fully expecting 8-12 hours of use, because that is what so many other women were saying they were able to do.

*Side bar. Full disclosure: I only started watching reviews once I felt like the device was failing me. However, in retrospect, I think it was more or less user error. 

What I Wish I Knew Before Using the Diva Cup  |  The Sassy Nation

[FIVE]

Like I said earlier, I didn’t expect that I could become even more intimately knowledgable with my body until l started using the Diva cup. I can’t count the number of times I’ve finger popped myself as a night cap before going to sleep. But this, this was and is something entirely different. it feels very surgical, but also very primal. 

I don’t know if I expecting to be grossed out— which I wasn’t. I was just like wow, it’s quite juicy in there— but in a different from normal way since my brain knows that there’s blood there. The first month I kept telling myself to relax and breathe to help getting it out. And that women have babies everyday. Pulling out this little piece of silicone should be a breeze, I told myself.

I guess, I was more or less irritated by and focused on the number of times I had to adjust it and re-adjust it rather than feeling squeamish about having blood on my fingers from feeling around. The instructions tell you to twist it and also run your finger around the circumference to make sure it’s full open. So, yeah, there was lots of juicy blood sloshing around in there. You kinda get over it due to the distraction from self-probing, lol.

AND, if you’ve ever had to clumsily empty one of these things— like I said— learning curve— then you know it can potentially be messy if you’re not careful. 

Fortunately I didn’t have any major accidents other than the leaking— which in most cases I felt right away. I’m pretty trained with free bleeding to an extent, because my cycle (it seemed before I started using the cup) tapers off around day 3.  But after using the cup, I still had minimal bleeding that pooled in the cup last month. 

HOWEVER… this could be because my cycle felt particularly crampy, which is unusual… and the discomfort was particularly heightened due to the distress I was putting my vagina in try to figure out the cup.

Which leads me to [SIX]

I vaguely remember reading some women complained of worse cramps while using the Diva Cup. This was me last month— which I did not appreciate. This month, however, it was back down to just moderate discomfort. This could possibly be because of the lack of sugar in my diet as well as all of the exercise that I’m getting now that I’m back in Mexico, biking and walking daily.

Now that I’ve cleared month number 2, the first day was still pretty sucky— but that’s every month, I think. What's different is that I’ve tempered my expectations, and I feel like I will continue to use the Diva cup, because the second month was significantly better and I anticipate will only get better.

Some other FYI notes: 

  • If it’s not in right you’ll notice leaking pretty much right away-- less than 10-15 minutes. And some times and alleged leak can just be some residual release post from re-insertion.
  • I find it helpful to insert and not have to run out and leave the house right away, just to give myself a security buffer time, lol
  • I don’t push mines far back, it kinda naturally floats up there on its own, but generally settles in the same spot off to the left. This is something no one mentioned, and I thought might indicate improper insertion. I've since learned that's not the case.
  • Some things that I find handy when emptying are paper towels or tissue to set the cup on after I rinse or wash it between insertions. And the sink, of course. Fortunately mines is right next to the toilet at both of my places.
  • And thanks to my new method, it’s much easier to take it in and out so that I'm not hogging up the bathroom. 
  • I also have unscented baby wipes on hand to wipe any residual fallout after reinsertion.
  • I haven’t had to empty it in public, but I hear a bottle of water is helpful in public stalls.
  • At home about every other time I empty it I use a natural feminine wash by Honey Pot to clean it.

That’s about it, girls! Any questions, feel free to hit me up.

Going International: The Do's and Don'ts of Solo Travel

Are you tired of your friends and family always flaking out on your when it comes time to skip town? I know I made the decision long ago to not let other people's lack of commitment to a potentially fun time hold me back from going and doing things that I like. Life is way too short to be waiting around for someone to hold your hand through every new experience. F*ck that! Pack those bags and GO girl (or dude-- hey dudes reading this)!

Here's some Do's & Don'ts to carry along with you on your journey

Do...

Plan ahead. I'm all for a go-with-the flow adventure, but at least have a loose outline that includes where you'll stay, a few cafes you can pop into for wifi or breakfast and some highlights that you really want to experience. OH! And cell phone service-- definitely check with your carrier to see what your options are BEFORE your take off. That's usually the least I'll do when headed to a new place.

Download Google Maps offline. This is something I had to learn the hard way after my walking tour in Barcelona ended and I had no idea which train would take me back to my hostel. Fortunately, I remembered that it was near a university and pick out what looked like the closest one on the subway map and hoped for the best. Ever since then, Google Maps offline errywhere!

Download a currency exchange app. I like XE Currency Converter for live rates, which come in handy when bargaining with street vendors. Gotta keep track of those coins. Speaking of coins...

Research the average cost of things like transportation. It's a good idea to have local currency on hand when you touch down. You'll be surprised that more often than not people in other countries still deal in cash-- especially when it comes to transport. What are you gonna do when you put a travel alert on your card to pay for, let's say the train, and it gets declined anyway? Now imagine not having the language to beg for coins for the fare. Lol-- that's a sad sight, right?! *insert straight face* It's all fun and games until it happens to you. Don't let it.

Going International: The Do's and Don'ts of Solo Travel | TheSassyNation

Always take a metered taxi or Uber, if possible. Do not let anyone whisk you away in an expensive ass private car like I got bamboozled into doing out of blind frustration over nearly missing my flight out of the monstrosity which is Manila Ninoy Aquino airport. I wish I had a camera for that near breakdown *struggle face*, but you can catch the post-fiasco reflection video here.  

Reach out to others that live there or have been to your destination. This is helpful for some preliminary ideas about where to go, what to do, and perhaps meeting a friend or two for coffee or a drink when you touchdown. I usually rely on Couchsurfing.com's "My Trips" function (accessible from your dashboard) to post about an upcoming trip and see who reaches out with info or would like meet up. I'm weird about staying with strangers, so I have yet to sleep on anyone's couch or in their spare room. Also, various Facebook travel groups like Black Travel Movement and Girls Love Travel can also be a great resource. Utilize their search function about your travel city-- chances are someone had the same/similar question as you in the past. This way you can see and chime in or PM people on the related message thread.  

Be open to making new friends with locals. They are the best resource when it comes to having a hyperlocal experience and avoiding tourist traps and prices for stuff. 

Do respect local customs and laws. You are a guest and don't ever forget it. Your mom does not want to get a call from you in jail in a dungeon somewhere. It would break her heart to learn that her baby made a foolish mistake, or worse was out in the world's streets acting like you don't have any home training. Think WWMD-- What Would Mom Do (if she knew).

Have an emergency plan. Shit happens. Expect the unexpected and be prepared with copies of Ev-er-y-thing. Digital and printed versions on your phone, in the cloud.

Don't... (Bryson Tiller voice)

Do not (highlights in bold for the procrastinators in the back), I repeat DO NOT exchange your money at the airport. Just trust us on this one. The exchange rate is absolutely terrible-- even stateside. Plus, you'll likely have to pay a ridiculous fee on top of the poor exchange rate. Just avoid it at all costs. Go someplace local in your city and read a few Yelp  or Google reviews beforehand and you'll be fine.

Don't be a lazy American. When it comes to language try to memorize a few key phrases. Just like at home, simple words like hello, please and thank you go a long way.

Don't be so quick to say you're traveling alone. This might be more of a safety issue for the ladies-- idk. However, I never usually tell people that I'm alone while traveling. I always use the default, I'm here visiting friends, whether it's true or not.

Don't be rude. You'll find the more places you go rudeness is subjective. Research (and ask) what gestures, and behavior your host country considers offensive and try to avoid it. Check your privilege--you are a guest, after all. 

Don't drink the tap water-- I think this goes without saying. I don't know many places, even stateside, where the tap water is ok. There's nothing worse than feeling violently ill on vacay. ESPECIALLY when you're a soloist. 

On a final note, take your common sense (and a dash of courtesy) with you. If something seems fun and moderately safe, do it! If something doesn't seem cool or you sense danger-- do not proceed. It's kinda that simple. Now go forth, have adventures, and live to 'Gram about it.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Drop a comment below or hit my line on Youtube or IG.

Day 7: Yoga is for Everyone

 
Why Yoga Causes Health and Happiness

There are so many benefits to doing yoga that it's hard to know where to start. Personally, I enjoy and practice hatha yoga, which I consider to be one of the more gentle and relaxing forms. I've tried other types, such as Vinyasa and Yin (Restorative), but I always go back to where I started. Hatha is definitely my type. There are so many variations, one is bound to find a match that is ideal for their lifestyle and level of desired physical rigor. Below is a beautiful (borrowed) infographic that outlines the various types of yoga and specific benefits.

Yoga is ideal for anyone looking to become more internally aware of their body by focusing on their breathing and how different postures make them feel. Personally, I find that yoga improves my fitness performance in other exercise regimens, dramatically improves my posture, flexibility and mental awareness. That's why I think exploring a yoga practice is the perfect lead into the development of a solid meditation practice. 

We are constantly bombarded with noise and information all day. Therefore, lots of people have issues quieting their mind. Yoga can definitely help with both of these things. It sharpens one's focus and opens the mind to the blissful mental stillness that meditation offers. Yoga and meditation go good together. Together they provide the mental agility and peace of mind one needs to lead a happier, stress free life.

  Image via Free Fitness Tips 

 

Image via Free Fitness Tips 

Now that you've had a crash course on the popular types of yoga that's out there, now it's time to put that info into practice. Below is a link to a couple of free yoga resources that are available on YT that I often rely on. When I first began practicing years ago, my goal was to cultivate a regular home practice. I spent years going to weekly classes. However, now I'm completely comfortable with just practicing at home. I suggest trying both, home sessions and studio classes. Most places allow you to take drop-in classes before committing to a monthly fee or bundled class pack. Check your local city paper, Scoutmob, Living Social or other online or print resource for a class near you. It's not unheard of to find community groups that practice together for free, so be on the lookout.

Congrats on making it to day seven! Starting tomorrow we will be switching gear to focus primarily on our spiritual wellness using different forms of meditation, affirmations and mantras. We hope you'll stay close, things are about to get really good!

 

Beginners try this! 

 

 

Intermediate level practice here!

Why Yoga Causes Health and Happiness
 

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Day 6: Green Smoothies & Juicing 101, For Beginners

Green Juice & Smoothies: The Secret Elixir for Better Skin

Smoothies versus juicing, which is better?

Well, that depends who who you ask.

Juice from a juicer is basically a concentrated smoothie, sans fiber.

Pros: Juice is super strength liquid goodness. You get all of the nutrients without the bulk of fiber. Although fiber is good for you, too much of anything is... well, you know the saying.

Cons: Juicers are typically a bit more pricy, and cleaning juicers can be a real chore. So, if you're short on time in the a.m., this might not be the ideal option for you. If you leave your machine unwashed for more than a hour or two, you can guarantee it's going to start to go rancid, and fast. Gag-- no bueno. Also, probably not the best way to treat a pricy investment that you might want to have for more than a month.

Alternately, you can juice the night before and sacrifice a few nutrients here and there. Juice is at it's peak freshness in the first 15-20 minutes after it's been extracted.

Green Juice & Smoothies: The Secret Elixir for Better Skin

Smoothies, my personal favorite go-to beverage at home, are also full of nutrients (to a lesser concentrated degree, albeit. but they're in there all the same). Plus, a smoothie gives the sensation of feeling fuller after having one. That's because of all the fiber content.

Pros: You can really bulk up your smoothies by adding ingredients like protein powders, yogurt, oats, flax or chia seeds, nut butters, etc. As long as your blender is powerful enough to blend everything adequately, you'll have quite a few options to mix in. 

Also, depending on whether you use frozen or chilled fruit, the texture can be dense and icy to thick and liquidy. Your choice. 

Cons: I really can't think of one, since smoothies are my fave. Sorry, guys, I'm biased. 

Nevertheless, green juice and smoothies both rock and are the perfect way to start your day with several servings of fruit and vegetables! That's all the tips for now. Tune in for today's broadcast on IG and FB Live! AND sign-up below to get a gift recipe(s) relating to today's topic.

Be sure to join the wellness chat on Facebook for more wellness tips. Click the button below for 3 mean-green recipes to blend up today!