What More Water Can Do for Your Skin and Mental Health

We’re always told, “drink more water”. However, many of us won’t jump on that bandwagon until we conceptualize what benefits it can bring to us in the immediate.

First day of our water challenge

I did a 30 day water challenge with a friend from work where we aimed to drink more water each day (I ended up taking in about 100 oz. a day). However, before you pull out your jug and start chugging… here are some things to know first:

  • Drinking too much water can be very dangerous. 
    Water intoxication can happen if someone drinks too much water too quickly. In rare cases, it can be deadly so never drink more than medically recommended for you.
  • Your stomach may not be able to physically hold a larger intake of water at the start.
    I wanted to get in close to a gallon of water on the first day of the challenge. In reality, it took me a week to reach a gallon per day. My stomach wasn’t used to holding that much liquid. Plus, I realized I personally didn’t need a gallon to see results.
    These pictures were taken only two weeks apart. As you can see, my face slimmed out because I wasn’t retaining as much water. Also, my skin looked and felt so much more hydrated.

Now, let’s hit on the positives that drinking more water brings to our mental health:

Brain Power

braintwoOur brain is made up of about 75 percent water and when we are nurturing it properly, the benefits can be game changing. We can focus better, think faster and have better clarity and creativity.

Feel like your hormones are off? Try drinking more water because it’s a key source for the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters.

Depression and Dehydration

Being dehydrated can cause serotonin levels to decrease. Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters in our mental health and it impacts brain cells linked to our mood, sleep and social behavior.

So when we are not getting enough water, we are doing our brain a disservice by not allowing it to produce the chemicals it needs for optimal mental wellness.

Stop Stressin’stress

Studies have been shown that dehydration can dramatically increase our cortisol levels. Most of us know cortisol as the “stress” hormone because it’s released as part of our internal “fight-or-flight”. While that serves us well if a black bear shows up by our camping tent, it does not serve us well when things arise that do not merit constant fear or stress.

Higher cortisol levels can also increase our risk for other mental illnesses, like depression. So, keep the water intake high and the cortisol levels low.

Tips for drinking more H2O

When drinking water isn’t a part of your daily routine – finding that routine can take as much effort as drinking water itself.

Here are some tips straight from the CDC which I love:

  • “Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work or running errands.
  • Freeze some freezer safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
  • Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.
  • Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 5.46.56 PMFor me, tracking and drinking more water was much more enjoyable because I used a bottle from Mossy Oak. If you’re wanting a Yeti but aren’t willing to spend $70 to $100 on it, this is a great solution!

This brand does an incredible job keeping water cold, for 24 HOURS. No joke. You can find these two, 17 oz bottles on Amazon for $24.99. I would suggest two because when you are drinking more water, you will have to wash your bottle more frequently.

Personal Insight Blog Disclosure: I am not a doctor or licensed health professional. This blog is for entertainment purposes and readers should use these tips at their discretion. Information included is strictly from my personal experienes other than what is sourced.

Why So Many People Choose the “If It Fits Your Macros” Lifestyle

Fat Free… Sugar Free….Zero Carbs… Low Sodium. I think it’s safe to say at some point, we’ve all relied on advertising labels to help us reach our fitness goals. How did those diet choices work out for you? For me, they didn’t. However, “macro counting” did.

To understand more about what macro counting is, I reached out to the person who taught me several years ago – IFBB Pro Bodybuilder and Certified Nutritionist, Lloyd Herford.


What Is Macro Counting?

Counting macros, also known as flexible dieting, requires that you daily count the macronutrients you eat – which are carbohydrates, protein and fat.

“Those are what are commonly found in normal foods people eat,” says Lloyd. “Based on your macro intake, you can also calculate caloric intake.”

How Do You Count?

In order to count all the fats, protein and carbs you eat, you need to become best friends with nutrition facts labels and a food scale.

img_5078Sound overwhelming? Without technology, it probably would be. Fortunately, there are apps like MyFitnessPal that will do all the tallying for you.

Macros numbers are for example only

As you add more food, it will compound on the previous food and you can find your macro count in the “nutrient” tab of the app.

So say you add 4 oz of chicken into MyFitnessPal. In order to know how much 4 oz is, you will need to weigh it. Do this for all your food and ladies and gents, you’re counting macros.

How Do I Know How Many Macros To Eat? 

This is where it gets fun because everyone’s macro numbers will be different. Even your macro numbers will change as your body starts changing (or not changing).

measuringtape“Basically, if they have stopped making progress at the correct rate, we will make slight adjustments to get things moving again,” says Lloyd. “That doesn’t always mean less food though.”

Those small adjustments to your macros can take several weeks – so be patient through the process!

Will Macro Counting Help Me Lose Weight?

It absolutely can!

However, if you don’t know how to manipulate macro numbers specifically for your body, you probably won’t see the results you want.

“Without manipulation of those numbers, nothing will happen,” says Lloyd.

That’s where a coach comes in.

A coach like Lloyd will look at a variety of factors like your weight, digestion, changes to your strength, energy and your progress pictures to determine your macros.

“Have a coach you can trust to adjust everything for you initially until you learn to do it yourself,” says Lloyd.

What Macro Counting Isn’t

The expression, “if it fits your macros” (IIFYM) isn’t a free for all to constantly eat garbage while being a lean, mean, fighting machine.

Can you make some indulgent foods fit into your macro numbers? Yes. However, once you’re on the macro diet, you will realize in order to hit your numbers daily, you may need to skip the cookie and go for the protein shake sometimes.

Plus, if your number one desire is to eat healthy, you are 100% in control of that with the macro diet.

chocolatecakeFor instance, if someone wanting to eat healthy needs 35 more grams of carbs and 15 more grams of fat to hit their daily macros, eating a piece of chocolate cake would be counterproductive.

Would they hit their numbers? Probably. However, they would also be adding at least 15 grams of sugar to their diet. Plus, half the fat in that piece of cake is most likely saturated fats.

Saturated fats are known to raise the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Why Should I Try The Macro Diet?

Unlike a lot of other diets, there are no specific food restrictions.Fried_chicken_thighs_with_rice This is a diet that gives you the flexibility to no longer be a slave to rice and chicken.

“With macros, the athlete understands we can easily replace that meal with any other food source that has the same breakdown,” says Lloyd.

It also helps you learn your body. For example, some people are more sensitive to carbs than others. This type of diet could help reveal those sensitivities.

Train Your Brain 

To keep things 100 – counting macros can be extremely time consuming. However, learning it, I believe, is worth the time commitment. After I started counting macros, it never left me.

Do I count macros religiously anymore? No. However, learning to count macros has given me a broader understanding of how much macronutrients I need in order to maintain or change what I see in the mirror.

So, rather than letting a deceiving marketing tool determine what you put in your body, you will have the tools to make the best judgement for yourself.

Here are some transformation pictures from a few of Lloyd’s clients who were put on the macro counting diet. 

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Get To Know The Face Behind The Knowledge:
Lloyd Herford, IFBB Pro Bodybuilder, AFPA Certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

Lloyd Herford lives in Metro Atlanta with his wife, Annemarie. They both are coaches for RISE Athletic Performance – which Lloyd founded in 2015. He and his team of six coaches have train hundreds of people in lifestyle transformation as well those wanting to compete. RISE is an online and in-person training & nutrition company. If you’re ever in the area, stop by Rise Athletic Club in Oakwood, GA and say hello to the team!

DISCLAIMERLloyd Herford is not a doctor or registered dietitian. The contents of this document should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. All advice is hypothetical and for entertainment purposes only. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health. 

8 Beauty Products To Get If You’re On A Budget

We all have something that is constantly in stock at our home. When the toilet paper is running low, there’s no “I can get by without it” mindset. That’s how I feel about 8 beauty products which were used to help create the look in the picture above. The best part is, you can find half of these items at the drug store.

1. Clear Proof Blemish Control Toner – Mary Kayimg_4828-1

I’ve been using this product twice a day, everyday for several years. My, oh my, does it work! If your skin is oily and prone to acne, I recommend trying it.

I experimented with so many acne products since high school and nothing was strong enough. With this toner, I noticed it picked up dirt that was left after washing my face. If you use it how I do, it lasts for at least two months and is $15 on Mary Kay.

Cotton rounds should have some exfoliating element – like a firmer side. Soft, flimsy ones won’t work.
Makeup left on my face after washing that Clear Proof Blemish Toner got up.

Look how much makeup was left on my face after washing and drying! The toner was able to pick up dirt that washing and drying couldn’t. I do, however, think these cotton rounds are just as essential in getting up the dirt as the toner is.

Usage: Put a nickel size amount of toner on the cotton rounds. Rub cotton rounds in circular motion across entire face and neck. I use it every morning and night before applying coconut oil.

2. Better Body Foods Organic Coconut Oil


I use it as a moisturizer day and night – primarily on my face, eyelids, neck and lips. I also will occasionally use it on my cuticles and as an eye makeup remover.

Coconut oil can help with the appearance of wrinkles and it encourages the production of collagen. It also has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin.

I like Better Body Foods Organic Coconut Oil because it doesn’t have that overwhelming coconut smell. That gets old real fast. It’s $7.56 at Walmart.


3. L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Definer Pencil

First off, you do not need a $20 brow pencil to get the job done. I use the ultra-fine tip shaping pencil in “Brunette” and it works perfectly. Get the ultra-fine tip so you can really control the strokes. It’s $6.63 on Amazon or a similar price at your drug store.

4. Kiss Ever EZ Lashes 11

Being on television, I’ve tried many lashes to help give my eyes an extra pop. This brand and style is by far the best if you’re on a budget.


The thing I love most about them is how natural they look. They have a thin base so they blend into your real lashes well. They are extremely light and don’t weigh down your eyelid and usually won’t peal off.

I can easily use the same pair for up to a week. Make sure to get #11 which you can find for $7.82 at Walmart.

I use the same brand for lash glue and it works pretty well.

5. Hello Flawless Powder Foundation – Benefit Cosmetics


An image consultant told meimg_4778 about this and I now use it everyday I wear foundation.

It gives your face an even, matted and truthfully… flawless look. The key is to use it as a second foundation and skip powder cover up all together. Apply your foundation like normal then use a rounded foundation brush (which I recommend below) to apply Hello Flawless. Apply evenly in a circular motion across entire face. Do not use the brush that comes with it. It simply won’t work as well.

I use the shade “What I Crave” Toasted Beige, which you can find for $34 at Ulta.

6. Classic Multitasker Brush #45 – Sephora Collection


This was another image consultant recommendation. It’s a rounded foundation brush so you can use it for multiple purposes.

The tip comes fully white.

However, I only use it for applying Hello Flawless.

But unlike a lot of foundation brushes, it is as soft as a cloud.  You can get this brush for $24 dollars at Sephora.

7. Well-Rested Eye Brightener – bareMinerals


I have used this concealer since high school and for good reason!

Applying under the eyes gives you a, wait for it…. well rested look ;). I apply this product on top of my eye lids and under the eyes until I reach the top of the cheek bone.

It also has SPF 20 and you can get it for $20 at Ulta.

8. Hair scrunchie…

img_4786I kid you not. I use a hair scrunchie every day/night because that is how I get my ends “curled”. NO CURLING IRONS!

I do not use a curling iron anymore and the only hot tools I use are a blow dryer and a straightener, occasionally. I do a blow out then straighten the roots at the front of my face when needed. The rest of my roots, I just let the curls be. It’s less heat and gives my hair body.

img_4879How does a scrunchie curl my ends? Originally, I did it by accident…

I put my hair in a messy bun at the top of my head -making sure the ends of my hair reach the tip of the scrunchie in the first pull through. I sleep on it then put my hair down, straightened the front roots, put some oil on the ends, brush it and then do minimal teasing.

Note: You may have a lovely cowlick at the top of your head but just tease that baby into shape! You can get a pack of 8 scrunchies at Walmart for $4.88.

You can get all these items for $119.89 plus tax!




Soy… To Eat Or Not To Eat? 4 Things You Should Know

Confused which side of the soy health debate you should be on? One day you’ll see the headline “Eat soy, it’s a great source of protein.” The next headline, “Eating soy can be dangerous for your health.”

Which one’s right? Well, both. That’s why it’s important to know the facts before taking a hard stance.


1. Not all soy is created equal

There are whole soy foods and processed soy foods. Processed food in general is something we should all strive to stay away from. Especially with a recent study showing  ‘ultra-processed’ food could increase your risk for cancer. But unlike the standard processed foods, (cereal, sodas, chips, etc.) processed soy can be hard to detect. Doctor Oz puts in plainly by saying, if you see “soy protein” on the nutritional label – it’s processed.

That includes your soy protein powders and bars.

Your whole soy food, however, can be great for you. Local nutrition coach, Brenda Fikry, says to aim for soy products that are close to their natural state.

“The great example of a whole soy food would be edamame,” said Fikry. “They grow that way and we eat them the way that they grow.”


2. Know your servings 

Knowing what to eat and how much to eat should go hand-in-hand. Too much of anything – even water – can be bad for you. Soy is no different.

1 to 2 servings of soy is Fikry’s recommendation. Eating over 4 or 5 servings of soy a day could put you in a danger zone.coffee

This includes our lattes and iced drinks we get at coffee shops. Generally, if you get anything over a 16 oz (2 cups) in soy milk, you’ve exceeded your daily recommendation.

“There tends to be more occurrences of some of the things we’re worried about – the cancers and all that,” says Fikry. “[However] it’s not definitive.”


3. Soy is rich in essentials   

Soy is a good source of:

  • protein
  • calcium
  • fiber
  • iron
  • vitamin B2 & K
  • magnesium
  • potassium

And unlike chicken, beef and pork, soy is low in saturated fats. It also has no cholesterol and is a heart healthy food. For some, it can also lower blood pressure.

“The variety is the key to getting different vitamins and minerals rather than getting the same ones over and over,” says Fikry.


4. Be critical of the labels 

First off, labels with the word “natural” are probably not what you think. 

According to USDA standards, a food that’s labeled “natural” cannot contain preservatives, artificial ingredients and it has to be minimally processed.
However, that product can still have growth hormones, chemicals and antibiotics in it.
And “all natural” literally means nothing. The USDA hasn’t defined it so it’s probably no different than a product marked “natural”. However, there is no guarantee it goes through the same regulations as “natural” products do.

With that said, be a critic. Take that extra 30 seconds and scan the ingredient label.
If your food says “all natural” and has things like sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate…. come on now.


Types of soy you see day-to-day

  • Whole Soy:
    Edamame (cooked soybeans),
    Soy nuts
  • Less Processed Soy:
    Soy milk
  • More Processed Soy:
    Soy yogurt
    Soy cheese
    Soy ice cream
    Soy protein powder
    Soy “meat”



Get to know the face behind the knowledge:
Brenda Fikry MS, RD, LD, EP-C

Brenda lives in Tampa with her husband Mohamed and dog Mylah. She prefers being called a nutrition “coach” because she loves empowering, motivating and walking alongside her clients as they reach their goals.
Follow her on Instagram!