Through my transformation, I excel // Weekly Thought

my transformation | itsjoulife.com

When I think I am content with life, my earth shakes. I struggle. I fight. I learn. I adapt. I change. Through my transformation, I excel.

Life is never certain, but what I know for sure is that I’ll never have life figured out. It’s ever changing and I’ll continue to adapt and evolve with my experiences. Life is a series of lessons learned and struggles aren’t always a curse. Struggles, whether they’re physical, emotional, or intellectual, build character and determine my success and make me uniquely strong.

There are times that I’ve been shoved, stressed, and slammed against immovable forces too strong to fight, yet through endurance and the Lord’s strength and His belief in me, I push harder and stand taller every time. It’s about learning to adapt in whatever circumstance I’m in and having the courage to seek opportunity, embrace change, and be my best.

Looking back I’m always in wonder how I overcame those obstacles. It reminds me I can do anything in life if I put my mind, heart, and strength in the Lord. He is the creator of all great things in my life and I owe it to Him for my transformation.

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Image: Jennifer Jou // Half Dome, Yosemite // July 2015

I ran a 200-mile race // ragnar relay so cal // fitness

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

We ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

Our finisher medals connected together say, “Together we ran 200 miles.”

I never thought I’d ever do it, but I ran a 200-mile relay race as part of the Ragnar Relay So Cal race 2015. Our team came in #42 and ran it in 26 hours and 22 mins. As much as this race was lengthy, it taught me a lot about endurance and pushing my mental and physical limits.

It’s been about a year since and even now just the thought of running a race that starts at Huntington Beach to San Diego is exhausting! It’s what crazy people do, right? In all seriousness, it was actually one of the best and challenging experiences. The race was well-organized, scenic routes, energetic crowds and spirited team members made it all worth it.

It’s been a longtime dream of Wayne’s and my good friend Jason made it happen for us! Jason was the super team captain and master organizer of this beast of a race. We didn’t have to worry because as a veteran of the race he had all the binders, splits and routes mapped out. Best of all, our 12-person relay team represented all the Harry Potter houses in matching outfits. I was team Hufflepuff and was just too cool running in knee high socks, yellow and blue striped tie and a wand–casting spells against other runners.

My three legs were a cumulative 14 miles and had its own sets of challenges. I ran in the mid-day heat in the Santa Ana river channel for 7 hard miles, enjoyed the dark midnight hours and nature’s noises in Laguna Niguel and experienced the sunrise rays of along the beach in San Diego. The most challenging part? Staying up for around 30+ hours and doing my best to be physically functioning to race hard.

It was an energy like no other and my team members were the most spirited, supporting and encouraging group of individuals. We tag-teamed providing water support where there was car access, squeezed in a Taiwanese dinner between van shifts and took turns napping in 20-minute increments, if possible. The team medals were pretty wicked. The 12 medals also came together like a puzzle to read, “Together we ran 200-miles.”

The photos need no explanation. Pure excitement. Spirited Away. Full adrenaline.

Best. Race. Ever.

Just don’t ask me to do it again.

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

What I packed in my race bag for two days

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

Awesome gear designed by Jason 🙂

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

Suit up!

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

Ready?

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

My lucky gnome charm

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

My night run. My favorite leg.

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

Pre-dawn sunrise in San Diego

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

Our awesome van

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

Van decor on fleek

I Ran a 200-mile Ragnar Relay from OC to SD https://wp.me/p7RBMP-vg

What I’m currently snacking on…

Snacks

I’m a snacker. It’s no secret once you open the doors of my pantry closet. I’m obsessed with discovering and trying new healthy, natural snacks.

Nature’s Bakery // Fig Bar

Last year I made the magical discovery of Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar. I’ve been in love ever since and buying it in bulk and sharing it with friends have been a favorite past time of mine. I got many hooked. My BFF describes it “as good as eating cake.” This is basically a glorified and healthy fig bar that made of stone ground whole wheat, non-GMO, no artificial flavors or colorings, vegan and Kosher Certified. Each pack comes with two bars and sometimes I have one pre and post workout. I always have a pack in my purse, office and work for when I’m hungry and on the go. The company, Nature’s Bakery, supports healthy conscious living and active lifestyles. They also make gluten-free bars. My favorite flavor is Apple Cinnamon.

Tip: You can buy Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars on Amazon (click on the link or the small thumbnail above) or buy it in bulk at Costco. It’s also sold at natural grocery markets like Whole Foods. With 110 calories per bar, this isn’t a low-calorie food. 

SnacksFig

SnacksFigBars

Winter night skincare regimen // organic beauty

WinterSkincare

With the winter season of cold winds and dry weather, my skin has been more patchy and sensitive than normal. I revamped my skincare regimen to include natural and nutrient-densed products and it has made a world of difference. Who knew my skin can be properly moistured, supple and radiant? Basically, back to basics.

Continuing with my organic skincare series, this is my current winter nighttime skincare regimen and the order of products that I typically use.

Josie Maran // Argan Cleansing Oil

An important nighttime step is properly cleansed skin. There is nothing worse than being lazy and sleeping with unwashed skin. I use this gentle, natural cleanser with nourishing argan oil to melt away makeup and deeply hydrate skin. How to use: I use 3-4 pumps on dry hands and massage it onto my dry face in circular motions for about 1 minute. I then wet the face and gently massage it into a rich milk. The oil and water slowly emulsifies, cleansing and moisturizing the skin. Rinse throughly with lukewarm water and pat dry with a towel.

Clarisonic

My favorite skincare tool in my bathroom and my ultimate secret for smooth, blemish-free skin. My husband perfectly describes it as an electronic toothbrush for the face. It uses sonic frequency technology to properly cleanse skin, with a massage-like feeling of the soft, gentle brush back and forth at more than 300 times per second, thoroughly clearing pores and skin’s surface. This award-winning tool removes makeup 6x better than traditional methods, clears pores and reduces the appearance of pore size, cleanses so thoroughly that skin care products absorb better and creates noticeably healthier looking skin. How to use: I use this 3x a week after a warm shower. Wet my face. I use my Acure Organics Facial Cleansing Creme directly on the brush and gently move it around my face. The brush will automatically shut off after 1 minute.

Acure Organics // Facial Cleansing Creme

This extra-gentle, creamy facial cleanser features the moisturizing benefits of Fair Trade Certied organic olive oil, Moroccan argan oil and cocoa butter, the antioxidant power of blackberry and rosehips and the mild cleansing of mint. It quickly removes makeup, dirt and impurities without stripping the skin’s natural moisture. Great for even the most sensitive skin.

Origins // Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask

My face goes through a lot throughout the day. This luxurious nighttime mask restore’s my skin’s moisture after a long day of the frigid and dry temperatures in the office and a good sweat at the gym. It’s rich with avocado and apricot kernel oil to quench dry skin and uses Japanese seaweed to repair skin’s barrier to prevent future dehydration and premature aging. How to use: 2x a week. Gently massage onto skin at bedtime and tissue off excess. When I wake up my skin is so supple and soft after this mask. Important note: If I use this overnight mask, I don’t use the below products. This would be the last product I use in my nighttime regimen.

Serum (A) Andalou Naturals // Fruit Stem Cell Revitalize Serum with Resveratrol Q10

I swear by serums. Think of it as vitamins for your face. It’s concentrated and nutrient dense to deliver straight to target areas. I’ve been on a quest to find a natural, non-chemical, serum that actually works. So far I’ve been liking this product designed with regenerating fruit stem cell science for visible age defying results. It repairs cellular damage and has gotten rid of some discoloration around my face. I’ve also noticed a brighter, even skin tone and smooth texture with fewer fine lines and wrinkles. How to use: I switch off from this and the Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk serum. When I do use the Andalou Naturals serum, I place a few pumps on my palm and smooth on my face and neck.

Serum (B) Josie Maran // Pure Argan Milk Intensive Hydrating Treatment

This revolutionary treatment serum is a new product I recently introduced into my winter skincare and I’ve been loving it. I got a deluxe sample to try and may buy the full-size. It’s lightweight, yet intensely hydrating, penetrating deeply and absorbs quickly to fortify and repair skin for instant, long-lasting hydration that provides a fresh, radiant glow. Since I’ve been using this, I’ve noticed less dry patches and wrinkles. It’s as if my skin has been naturally plumped by the moisture. This is safe for sensitive and problem skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, or dermatitis reported the product helped ease their skin condition. How to use: Massage three to five drops onto clean face, day and night after cleansing. I usually follow this up with Josie Maran Argan Oil.

Josie Maran // 100% Pure Argan Oil

Moroccan argan oil, extracted from the nut of the argan tree, is loaded with Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. This is a holy grail product that has multiple uses in my regimen. It can heal, condition and repair skin, hair, feet and nails. Tip: After drying my cleansed face, I place a few drops on my palm and press onto my skin. I also massage a couple drips into my nail cuticles. For an intensive moisturizing treatment, I place a few drops in my face moisturizer.

Origins // High Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral Enriched Renewal Cream

Put dullness to rest. This night cream is fortified with a system of time-released resurfacers, minerals, moisture-rich replenishers, and vitamins C, E, and H to refresh and support naturally radiant morning skin. Relaxing aromas lull you to sleep and dry, dead layers slough away leaving skin looking bright and feeling refreshed.

 

 

winter day skincare regimen // organic beauty

day_skincare

With the winter season of cold winds and dry weather, my skin has been more patchy and sensitive than normal. I revamped my skincare regimen to include natural and nutrient-densed products and it has made a world of difference. Who knew my skin can be properly moistured, supple and radiant? Basically, back to basics.

With the rise of natural products it can be difficult to navigate what brands and products work best. My favorite brands of the moment are: Acure Organics, Josie Maran and Honest. I’m passionate on using natural and organic products that are free from animal testing, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, harmful preservatives and artificial colors. Most of the products I use are certified organic ingredients that meet my high standards of efficacy and purity.

This is my current winter daytime skincare regimen and the order of products that I typically use.

Acure Organics // Facial Cleansing Creme

This extra-gentle, creamy facial cleanser features the moisturizing benefits of Fair Trade Certied organic olive oil, Moroccan argan oil and cocoa butter, the antioxidant power of blackberry and rosehips and the mild cleansing of mint. It quickly removes makeup, dirt and impurities without stripping the skin’s natural moisture. Great for even the most sensitive skin. Tip: During winter I cleanse in the evening before bed. In the morning I just splash my face with water because my face doesn’t get that greasy at night and I don’t want to strip essential moisture in the morning. In the evening, I use this product after a warm shower because my pores are open and I can get a deep cleaning. I still use a separate makeup remover for the eyes. 

Acure Organics // Argan Stem Cell + Chlorella Growth Factor Brightening Facial Scrub

This is my secret weapon for smooth and glowing skin. The natural exfoliation of organic sea kelp gently exfoliates while French green clay and organic lemon peel remove impurities from my pores. Organic chlorella growth factor and argan stem cells help stimulate new cell growth while providing a deep cleansing, brightening experience. I think of the deep green color as a green smoothie for my face! Tip: After a warm shower when my pores are open, I squeeze a nickel-size amount in my hand, emulsify the product in my palm and lightly massage onto my skin with my fingertips. Use 2x a week.

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

Moroccan argan oil, extracted from the nut of the argan tree, is loaded with Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. This is a holy grail product that has multiple uses in my regimen. It can heal, condition and repair skin, hair, feet and nails. Tip: After drying my cleansed face, I place a few drops on my palm and press onto my skin. I also massage a couple drips into my nail cuticles.

Acure Organics // Day Cream

Deep moisture + fights the signs of aging. I normally have combination skin, but during the winter the cheek area gets dry and patchy. That is why I switch to a day cream during this dry season. I’m picky when it comes to cream, but this day cream is easily absorbed into my skin with no greasy residue. Great powerhouse combo: the gotu kola stem cells firm and help my skin fight environmental damage and free radicals + 1% chlorella growth factor supports collagen and elastic fibers. Bonus: 10 cents for every Day Cream and Night Cream sold supports United For HER’s efforts.

Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 with Sunboost ATB

I’m a sunscreen fiend and truly believe preventative care is a key to anti-aging and preventing wrinkles. I’m selective when it comes to SPF, especially natural-based products since some can be greasy. I look for lightweight, non-greasy and chemical-free sunscreen that moisturizes and protects the skin. This is it! The pure argan oil, jojoba oil, green tea, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and SunBoost ATB is packed with antioxidants and hydrators to protect my skin from the sun and nourish my skin at the same time. Tip: I warm a nickel-size amount between my fingertips and smooth over my face, gently pressing and working the formula into my skin until it totally disappears. This fast-absorbing sunscreen sinks into the skin while creating a smoother finish. If wearing foundation, this should be worn first as a multi-tasking primer.

Honest Organic Body Oil

This is a soothing blend of certified organic jojoba, tamanu, olive, avocado and sunflower oils that leaves my skin silky and nourished. I love that this non-toxic product is hypoallergnic, vegan, botanically-derived and pH balance. Tip: In the morning I like to provide extra moisture for my elbows, knees and arms. In the evening, I use this immediately after my shower, but is also great for baby massage and mom’s belly. Sometimes I also mix a few drops with my current body lotion for intense moisture.