DeJanae Evins is a certified cannabis educator, consultant and the creator of GreenGoddessGlow, a digital resource at the intersection of cannabis and wellness encouraging mindful cannabis self-care practices. Evins is also a freelance health and wellness writer often discussing topics around sexual health and women's empowerment. Since learning about the Plant Queendom and the many ways we can use plant medicine to heal ourselves both individually and on a global scale, Evins has been vocal in both the cannabis and wellness communities about integrating cannabis in her approach to holistic health. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @dejanaetanye.
I recently completed a 14-day water fast that taught me so much about willpower, my unhealthy eating habits and addiction to sugar. By the end of my fast, I had a fresh perspective and clear connection to my body. There is a deep sense of clarity that comes when you can eliminate everything to make room for a mental, physical and spiritual reset.
After deciding to do a 14-day fast, I had to mentally prepare myself to endure two weeks of drinking just water. I had to intermittent fast the weeks leading up to the fast, which meant I had one meal a day in addition to juices and smoothies. That's when I learned sugar would be the hardest thing to give up. I had to exercise my willpower and practice some serious delayed gratification, but I'd say it paid off by the end of the two weeks.
I was the most motivated in the first week. I had developed a morning routine: I woke up, drank a glass of lukewarm water with pink Himalayan salt and did my daily meditation. By week two, hunger really started to kick in. I was craving anything with icing or fried. But the improvements I was noticing in a lot of the physical changes reaffirmed I was making a right decision by sticking to it. My skin was clearer from detoxing and the required sunbathing for my daily dose of vitamin D. I had increased energy and focus since my body was no longer working to break down food. And I was able to become more present and aware in my spiritual practices.
It was very challenging and the responses I got from those around me were often to voice concern or worry. Nonetheless, it was deeply transformative. Now, I get a lot of people asking me how they too can fast and get the best results.
Here are some things to consider if you're thinking of intensive fasting.
Disclaimer: This is the writer's personal experience. Please consult your healthcare physician before making any major diet changes.
1. Do Your Research
When I first told my friends and family that I was going to do a water fast, they were worried about how dangerous it would be. They were concerned that I'd at some point need a doctor's attention or, worse, die. Because I had done my research, watching countless YouTube videos and reading various medical articles on the subject, I wasn't fearful about not eating. I was very much aware of the risks like light-headedness, not getting enough nutrients, and a faint pulse. All of which, I experienced over the course of my fast. Along with my body's natural, and oftentimes involuntary, colon-cleansing episodes.
2. Have a Plan of Action
That said, you're going to need a clear plan of action. Have you stocked up on enough water? Do you have pink Himalayan salt to replenish the body with electrolytes first thing in the morning, and to protect the stomach for when you introduce food into your diet? Do you have a doctor or health practitioner on speed-dial should you feel like something is wrong? Have you figured out "the why" that's going to be the determining factor in whether or not you successfully accomplish your goal?
3. Set Intentions
This is the most crucial part of water fasting. Water fasting is not something you should do to quickly lose weight. However, I lost upward on 20 pounds by the end of the two weeks, one pound on some days and three pounds on another. But when I set out to do this fast, it was to challenge myself but it has always had deep ties in my spiritual growth. I'd started by doing the Daniel's fast for 21 days in January with my church in high school, and by college I'd made a habit of abstaining from eating certain things and enjoying certain luxuries for weeks at a time for my spiritual development. In this way, water fasting was somewhat of a natural evolution. My intentions were to exercise my willpower, to reaffirm that I could do anything I put my mind to and allow my body the time it needed to naturally detox and cleanse itself. Our bodies are mostly water, and so intentional water fasting was like a spiritual baptism for me.
4. Consult with a Holistic Health Practitioner
This isn't something I felt I needed to schedule a doctor's visit so I took a more holistic route. It's very, very important that energy circulates during this time. I learned that some people went to see chiropractors or massage therapists throughout their fasts; I went to see my acupuncturist. She alerted me of my faint pulse and suggested I add vitamin and nutrients to my fasting regimen. She definitely helped me in the second week to sort through the emotional detox I was experiencing along with the mental and physical shifts.
5. Listen to Your Body
The greatest thing that came from this experience was learning to listen to my body. The clarity to know when and what to eat when coming out of your fast is different individual and different for everyone. Over the course of two weeks, I'd learned how to listen for when my body was thirsty, when it needed rest, when it needed movement, and so, I was able to transition back into eating much more quickly than anticipated. I hadn't known just how much salt and sugar there was in the foods I was eating until I took a break from them.
It's amazing how your appetite can change in 14 days and you can learn how to create more intention and consciousness around what you eat. Gaining a little bit of clarity is a good place to start.
Did you know that xoNecole has a new podcast? Join founder Necole Kane, and co-hosts Sheriden Chanel and Amer Woods, for conversations over cocktails each and every week by subscribing to xoNecole Happy Hour podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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Originally published March 14, 2019
Self-care Sunday is amazing, in theory. But in reality, being a professional working woman can leave hardly anytime for self-care. So many of us desperately crave a quiet night at home, a hot bath while deep conditioning our hair and have to balance that with making time for Sunday brunch with friends. By working long hours, after-hours and trying to hold on to some sliver of a social life, we put a hefty tax on the time that could be used taking care of ourselves.
Because of this, I'm always investigating new ways to up my skincare routine in any way that is low-maintenance and helps me along my journey to optimal health. I recently attended a facial cupping workshop hosted by New York-based naturopathic practitioner, acupuncturist, and herbalist, Dr. Naika Apeakorang. In the very quaint and cozy Natural Feeling Spa, we were introduced to this ancient beauty secret that improves circulation, heals and regenerates tissue, restores energy, and has been around for more than 5,000 years.
If taking a silicone suction cup to the face sounds intimidating, believe me it's not. Instead, it's an almost instant skin and natural beauty booster you didn't know you needed.
Here's are a few reasons to give it a try:
Facial cupping is a stress reliever.
Facial cupping is like a deep tissue massage for your face. Dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles are just a few ways stress shows up on our face. The practice of facial cupping requires using suction cups directly on skin to promote circulation and relieve muscle tension. Our face is full of nerves and pleasure points and yet we spend very little time, or none at all, addressing all the stress we carry in our most outward appearance and interactions with the rest of the world. Facial cupping can decrease anxiety and be a mood enhancer. Meaning how we look has a lot to do with how we feel. Less stress and anxiety means healthy, glowing skin.
Facial cupping promotes glowing skin.
Another way that facial cupping promotes healthy, glowing skin is by increasing blood circulation, stimulating collagen and encouraging elasticity in the skin. The main function of the blood is to carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, which includes the face. The suction of cupping brings blood to the top of your skin, revitalizing the skin, giving the face a natural contour and enhancing your natural beauty.
"What you put in your body is just as important, if not more important, than what you put on your body," Dr. Apeakorang said. She suggests eating more fruits with antioxidants, like beets and blueberries, that have nutrients that contribute to clear and luminous skin. She also encourages dandelion and burdock root to support blood health, which in combination would further result in flawless skin.
Facial cupping helps with congestion.
Spring season is drawing near! Facial cupping can help relieve allergy symptoms such as sinus congestion. Congestion of the face and body can be areas of thickened lymph, which blocks drainage and creates more congestion. Facial cupping improves drainage and relieves congestion by way of lymphatic liquefaction and drainage.
Facial cupping is detoxifying.
The lymphatic system plays a key role in health. Muscle movement is needed to push lymph fluid through the body. A lack of movement can result in a lazy lymphatic system and an unwanted buildup of toxins. Facial cupping stimulates the lymphatic vessels and facilitates toxin elimination.
Facial cupping deepens your skincare routine.
Facial cupping improves product absorption and nutrient delivery to the skin. The suction of the rubber cup opens up your pores and makes product seep in deeply. By increasing the depth and efficacy of skincare products, it directly helps reduce the appearance of acne scarring and blemishes.
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Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published on April 9, 2019
As Valentine's Day approaches there's one thing that's on everybody's mind. Yes, you guessed it: Sex. I always end up doing the latter. I've never been one that puts too much pressure on myself to make a grand gesture toward myself or anyone I'm dating on Valentine's Day. I might buy myself flowers on a weekday or try a new dish at my favorite restaurant at least. At most, I might take a pole dancing class or try a new cannabis lube, anything to get the heart rate up.
Disclaimer: I will take any opportunity try something new, especially if it's cannabis-infused.
Cannabis has a long list of health benefits, and in my experience, it's done wonders for my sex life. It's hard to enjoy sex, or anything pleasurable for that matter, if you're not present in the moment. Cannabis has made sex a more intentional exercise in self-awareness and mindfulness for me. I've tried several different cannabis lubes, did a YouTube review about it, and have had better orgasms by myself and with a partner because of it. If you haven't any Valentine's Day plans yet, it's not too late. Make the reservations, look at the restaurant wine list, and treat yourself to a cannabis lubricant to end the night in true Valentine's Day fashion.
Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to learn your body in a more intimate way and explore sex by intensifying your experience with cannabis lube. Here's why:
1. Cannabis and Wellness Go Together
Cannabis is a wellness tool that can be used in a variety of ways. Sex included. Cannabis lube is a natural enhancement, allowing you to get out of your head and into your body. Because it's often associated with an elevated mood and overall sense of well-being, you can expect that your sexual experience will be nothing less than delicious. Like biting into a heart-shaped piece of dark chocolate, using cannabis before sex stimulates the production of endorphins, the chemical in the brain that create feelings of pleasure.
2. It’s a Natural Alternative
If you consider sex a form of self-care, then you might want to seriously consider what lube you've been using up until this point. Cannabis lubricants act as a natural alternative to other sex lubes on the market because they are often accompanied by other natural ingredients like coconut oil and cardamom, which relieves fatigue and increases stamina. And because cannabis decreases vaginal dryness, it can also help prevent UTIs and yeast infections.
3. Everybody’s Talking About It
Cannabis and sex is probably one of the most exhilarating conversations happening among women right now, partly because it's about more than getting your vagina high. Not only does cannabis have anxiety-reducing effects in small amounts — so you don't have to stress yourself out about being single on Valentine's Day — but it's also believed to "increase libido ….which in turn can release positive endorphins and increase vaginal lubrication," according to New York Gynecologist Dr. Monica Grover of Asira Medical.
4. Studies are Revealing the Truth about Cannabis and Sex
While cannabis lubricant is not something that's entirely new to me, I realize for a lot of women it's never been tried or tested. That's beginning to change. A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (JSM) entitled "The Relationship Between Marijuana Use Prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women" revealed nearly 70% of women reported more pleasurable sex and almost 62% said it enhanced the quality of their orgasms and their libidos in general.
Are you down to try?
Featured image by Giphy
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Originally published on February 9, 2019
I was taught you only ever went to the doctor when something was wrong.
When I was growing up frequent doctors and dentist visits meant time off work my mother didn't have the luxury of taking. As an adult, my annual trip to the doctor's office is only for a routine pap smear, which means my doctor's visits, can vary from one to none. This might frighten some, but I'm more worried for my health when visiting a doctor, considering the statistics. Studies repeatedly show the lasting distrust between black Americans and their health care physicians.
There's a disconnect because Black people are more inclined to trust people that look like them, that have the same values as them, and are invested in their wellbeing as members of the larger community. When we are not well, we cannot be our best selves to support our families and cannot serve our communities to our greatest potential.
Building community begins with us.
So, I take more responsibility for my health and well-being, and to see other black women trailblazing in health and wellness is empowering, and continues to be a source of reassurance and comfort in knowing we're moving towards taking back our power to heal ourselves and our communities. That also means when I'm spending my coin on alternative treatments that I'm looking to spend black, being intentional about where my business goes and how it continues to help the people that look like me.
I met with Portia Wilson, founder of Deeper Genius Acupuncture & Healing Arts, an acupuncture practice rooted in the wisdom of the Traditional Chinese Medical system (TCM), for my first-ever acupuncture treatment and to talk black women in wellness and preventative health in our communities.
"It is such an exciting time!" Portia echoes. "Wellness spaces are evolving to be more inclusive and culturally competent. I'm so inspired by all of the black women out here in the health industry pushing the culture."
She mentions Chicago based yoga teacher and wellness guru Lauren Ash of Black Girl in Om, renowned vegan chefs Lauren Von Der Pool, Babette Davis, and Lynette Astaire, and veteran acupuncturist and community leader Jewel Thais-Williams of the LA-based Village Health Foundation as being a few of her inspirations—all of whose works consider the overall holistic health of the individuals they service.
While not completely negating the fact that "western medicine absolutely has its uses," Portia stresses the need for spaces that contribute to growth "in the areas of preventative care, patient empowerment, and nutrition."
"I think those three things are the key to overhauling our healthcare system as we know it."
Leaning on the teachings of many of these women, taking responsibility for my mental, physical, and emotional health has meant practicing yoga, eliminating meat and dairy from my diet almost completely, drinking more water, studying plant medicine and exploring more holistic health offerings like acupuncture.
Acupuncture at the superficial level is simply the insertion of very thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body that helps reduce stress and pain, and circulate blood flow. But a deeper look into the ancient Chinese tradition reveals it's more than that. Portia describes it as a "treatment" that penetrates beyond the physical to "assess the whole person in mind, body, and spirit."
Many would be surprised to learn that an acupuncture intake exam is just as, if not more, intensive than a first-time doctor's visit. "During the usual 20-minute intake, we discuss everything from daily food intake, cravings, color of menstrual blood, digestive experiences, quality of sleep, stress levels, if you have vivid dreams. We go really in-depth to get a thorough understanding of what's happening with the whole person," she explains.
For example, using pulse and tongue diagnosis, Wilson is better able to understand what's happening internally. Portia considers what relationships suggest where a person's particular imbalances reside to tailor her patient's treatments whether it be as common as PMS or distinct to the individual with chronic migraines or eczema.
I'll admit, I would not have been as open about describing my stool, eating habits, or sex life with any other physician. While she read my pulse, we casually discussed how she got into Traditional Chinese Medicine and laughed about our similar experiences studying biology at Howard University.
From reading my pulse, she was able to tell me that my period was on its way and where there may be places that I'm carrying grief, among other things. I wasn't at all expecting that. I was there to learn about what was going on in my body and to learn there may be some subtle grief I hadn't processed, that I might be carrying it with me definitely helped me to dive deeper into my own self-awareness.
A lack of knowledge of how to eat, how to process stress, how to listen to our bodies is how untreated grief can lead to depression.
"Black women have some of the highest rates of depression and untreated depression in the U.S." Portia said, "People feel better after their sessions, they sleep better, and they report lower levels of anxiety and irritability after treatment. With consistent treatment, these effects are longer lasting. Regular acupuncture optimizes our innate healing abilities by improving our ability to handle stress."
"Black women have some of the highest rates of depression and untreated depression in the U.S."
Where I might've been embarrassed to go as far as talk to a therapist about battling negative thoughts and feelings, I felt comfortable sorting through those thoughts and feelings with my acupuncturist.
Acupuncture should be seen as a "wellness tool for black women seeking complementary treatments for depression and anxiety," Portia suggests.
Another wellness tool that Portia keeps in her arsenal is fire cupping. Portia describes it as "a form of bodywork and detox all wrapped in one." Using a flames to create a vacuum inside of a glass cup, Portia quickly placed on the cups on every inch of my back. "The suction from the cup reaches about four inches deep into the body—lifting the underlying tissues to release tension, increase fresh blood flow, and relax the nervous system."
It left big red circles resembling different phases of the moon on my back. "Those dark marks that are left behind are areas where the body was storing tension. The darker the mark the more of a release of "stuck" energy from the underlying tissue," she assures.
I spent the following week explaining the dark marks to others and how it made my shoulders and back less tense, how I had the best sleep I'd had in a long time, felt an improvement in my mood, and experienced a lighter, easier period afterwards.
I have another appointment scheduled for next week.
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When Beyoncé challenges the girls to go vegan, the girls respond with kudos and applause but very few accept.
The simple fact is: lifestyle changes are hard. That's why we often praise and congratulate our favorite celebrities for pushing boundaries and making healthier lifestyle choices that break old habits. We commend Queen Bey for her diligence and flawlessly dewy skin. Both of which are a direct result of what we eat.
We have to keep that same energy and support our friends with the same enthusiasm. While veganism isn't something that's reserved for the affluent, it's also not for everybody. In which case, it doesn't hurt to a least support a friend that's trying.
It's a new year and your homegirl whose new year's goal was to go vegan is slowly slipping back into her old ways. Sometimes it's not just the eating habits that are hard to break, it's everything that comes with it. It's deciding on a place to eat when going out with a group of friends, it's navigating the grocery store with an entirely different intention, and unlearning everything you thought you knew, from what you put in your mouth to what you put on your body.
Here's how you can stan for your newly vegan homegirl like she's Beyoncé:
Congratulate Her on the Small Accomplishments
If your friend decides to "go vegan," what she really means is she's stepping into a transitional period. A majority of vegans go through a phase where they aren't entirely vegan but making more health-conscious decisions in an effort to achieve their goal. That said, you should absolutely be celebrating your friend anytime she chooses a salad over cheeseburger sliders. Acknowledge her efforts when she brings her vegan nail polish with her to her nail appointment or opts not to buy leather. After all, a great accomplishment is just a string of careful choices over a period of time.
Suggest Vegan Restaurants for Hanging After Work
For a lot of new vegans, it's not uncommon that friends will flat out stop inviting them out because of their dietary restrictions. Don't be that friend. It's hard to imagine there's a place where there are no vegan restaurants within a reasonable distance. If there is, suggest that you and your friend go for drinks and forward her the menu. This shows you support her decision while also helping yourself to a few half-off glasses of wine before 7 p.m.
Have a Girls’ Night In and Make a Vegan Recipe
And if you can't find a vegan restaurant nearby or you'd rather stay in, make it a vegan girls' night. Comfort your friend southern-style with vegan chicken and waffles or golden fried crab cakes and a movie. A common misconception is vegans only eat salads and everything tastes bland. But this is far from the truth. Veganism gives you the opportunity to explore other options, experiment with new flavors and expand your palate.
So the next time you hear your friend talk about her decision to go vegan, instead of giving her the side-eye, gas her up! And take her to the Slutty Vegan to commemorate her dope lifestyle change, 'cuz baby, she deserves!
Featured image by Getty Images.
You Need To Visit These Black-Owned Vegan Restaurants In Your City – Read More
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Dating in the digital age is no walk in the park.
It requires that you keep your feelings at bay and your eyes wide open instead of wide shut and zeroed in too closely on the illusion of potential. Dating in the digital age means sliding into DMs instead of chance meetings on the train after work commutes, or blind set-ups from mutual friends. You rarely get the opportunity to invest before you swipe left for something shinier and more new. So many options, so little substance.
It also means time spent constantly wishing we still lived in times where someone would ask you out on a date on Friday and not wait until Saturday to say something came up. Simple things.
But, since longing for the simplicity that my grandparents once knew in their courtship is pointless, I decided that if the dating game wouldn't change, I'd just have to change. In order to better equip myself to navigate the sometimes bleak waters of dating in the digital age, I connected with a dating and relationships coach to gain some insight in the confusion of it all. Here's what I picked up:
Watch and Learn
Dating and relationship coach, and author of The Don't Before I Do, Emily Duboise says, "In the early stages, what you see is what you get. In this era, doing a soft stalk of each other's social media is part of the early stages of courtship. It's just expected, and can be quite useful in the early weeding out process. You can tell a lot from someone's page. It's a display of one's own personal brand whether we know it or not."
Social media in many ways has been both a dating blessing and a curse. While we're in this age of hyperconnectivity, it should be easy to find our Prince Charming, but no. On the one end, I'm always wondering which of the dudes sliding in my DMs like Grand Rapids have girlfriends they've been keeping below sea level. And on the other end of the spectrum, I'm on emotional standby at all times to support friends that finally come to realization that they've been kissing toads in search of their prince charming.
No one wants to find out that after months of "dating" or clinging to the potential of someone that in all actuality, you're the side chick. Or that he's just not that into you. I don't know which is worse honestly.
Communication Is Key
Whether we take heed or not, the red flags are always there. "If he's liking, sharing, expressing interest in posts that degrade or bash women (i.e. half-naked Instagram models or singing the tune 'Women only want men for ____,' he's probably not for you sis," Emily said. "If he is adamant about keeping his page private from YOU that's a red flag. A man should have nothing to hide. And if the only form of communication is through DM, and later he's deleting messages later those are red flags."
It's Not Bittersweet If You're Just Bitter
Dating can easily have you go from crushing to feeling crushed. Stalking him on social media is all fun and dating games until he posts a picture with another girl and now you're wondering where you stand. To avoid coming off bitter and broken, here are some ground rules one should set for themselves while dating in this social climate.
"I tell single women all the time: Every meme, quote, post should not scream, 'I'm single,' 'This why I ain't got no man,' 'Men ain't sh*t,' etc. Your profile should be fun, light, and exemplify that you are beautiful, you are enjoying life, and simply interesting. Men should be so intrigued by your page that they'll want to learn more, and won't think twice about hitting you up, especially whether or not you have a man."
Self-Preservation Is Everything
As an exercise, I volunteered myself for a kind of social experiment. I bought roses for myself and, a few days later, I grabbed them while dashing out the door. I spent the day giving those dozen roses to a dozen beautiful women I encountered. One to the woman working in the parking garage at my office building, another to hostess at the restaurant where I had lunch, so on and so forth.
It's too easy to forget about loving yourself when we've been made to believe we need a partner to feel whole. You should be so full of love that your cup runneth over.
We don't have to search outside of ourselves for the love we so desperately seek when we have the capacity to give love unconditionally. When it comes to social media, and looking to a potential bae's page for reference, look at the women he does post on his page, pay attention to his mannerisms and if how he displays himself to the world is aligned with your own self-expression. Is he worthy of your time and energy? Or would he leave you feeling half-full and emotionally exhausted?
"Dating [in the digital age] is all about seeing if you like the person and want to spend more time with them. It's not about changing them, and molding them into someone of your liking. YOU decide, based on the information you are gathering from his page, whether or not it's going to work for you. It's ok to say 'no' and move on. Your conversation would be: 'I'm looking for something different,' not 'Why are you posted up with all these different women?'" Emily said.
Featured image by Getty Images