Forget Me Not, Love You Always. Opening Up About My Father & His Lewy Body Dementia.

To date, this has been the hardest story to share for me. To my dad, I love you always.

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For every little girl, their dad is their hero. He’s the first man you love, the man who fights off the monsters and the man who you ask when you know your mom is going to say no. For me it was no different, my dad was my king. He’s always been my #1 fan no matter what I’m doing and through every endeavor in my life, he has always been so proud of me.

Being a pilot, my dad was around for a few days at a time while I was growing up and I remember how excited I would be when he was coming home. When he got home late, he would leave me surprises at the foot of my bed so I would see them when I woke up. He would take me to see him fly the model airplanes he built and without fail he would crash them every single time. He always wanted to make me happy and for that I thank him endlessly. He gave me an immense amount of love every day.

While I’ve never been one to fantasize about my future wedding, the only part I would think about was my dad walking me down the aisle. I would hope and pray that I would be lucky enough to have him in my life for so long.

As the years have passed, those dreams have become less of a reality and more of a harsh reminder that my dad will not be with me for years to come and the day will come where I will have to walk down the aisle alone.

5 years ago, my dad began to show signs of forgetfulness. Things like, “where are my keys?”, “what’s your number?”, and “where’d I put my jacket?”. Questions that to some may seem like nothing, but to us we knew something was wrong. My dad, stubborn to the bone, refused to see a doctor but after countless phone calls to his doctor, we were told that he was most likely showing early signs of Alzheimer’s. At such a young age, only 59, we thought this was rare to have so early but at least we could treat him with medicine to help slow the progression of the disease. While I knew he might forget me, I also knew I had years to enjoy him before that could happen.

Oh man was I wrong. As we come to 2018, his health was declining rather rapidly and in the course of a few weeks, my father had become a completely different person. He was aggressive, experiencing massive mood swings and while never becoming physical, his angry words were enough to leave my mom and I with tears in our eyes more than once.

He began forgetting more and more things, peoples faces were becoming less recognizable, he couldn’t drive and using a TV was a task in its own. Then on Feb. 9 it’s like our lives kind of stopped. What we thought was a trip to the emergency room for severe back pain my dad was experiencing, it was so much more. My dad was admitted on Feb. 9th and thus began a long and painful journey to discovering his true disease. When admitted, we explained to the doctors what had been happening & they kept my dad for testing thinking maybe he had a tumor or seizure causing his severe change in behavior in the previous weeks. They ran test after test and found nothing and as the days passed we saw him becoming quiet, lethargic and showing signs of declining even further. He had also developed pneumonia and his ability to swallow was non existent. After two weeks and countless tests the doctors informed us that what he had was a disease called Lewy Body Dementia, an aggressive and devastating form of dementia most common in younger adults, ages 50-65. This type affects your frontal lobe of the brain causing emotional and personality changes as well as effecting your motor skills.

With this diagnosis came even harder news; they didn’t know if my dad would be able to swallow again & without food he would not survive for long. The cherry on top? They also told us that we would never be able to take my dad home again. No matter what our next move was, he would need to be in a facility where he could receive 24/7 care. This was not the type of news I was expecting nor hoping to hear.

I was in the car with my boyfriend when my mom told me that the doctors weren’t sure how long he’d live for and I promise you in that moment I felt time stop and it was like all the feeling in my body had left me. My dad was dying, and way faster than I had ever imagined. I would no longer have my dad to walk me down the aisle, to meet his grandchildren, to see me achieve my goals. I would never wish my worst enemy this feeling, a feeling of hopelessness and sadness. Point blank, it sucks.

If you could see my dad in the hospital, it was like looking at a shell of who my father was. Skinny, not moving and no sign of emotions in his eyes. He would remember me one day and forget me the next and there were days I’d go where he would just stare into the abyss and not say a word. Whatever was to happen next, I had already lost my dad. While his body was still there, the man who is my father, the loving father and husband, was gone. His mind was no longer under his control and it was evident that things were not going to get much better from here on out.

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In the days that followed, a decision needed to be made. Feeding peg or no feeding peg? While we are not full supporters of a feeding peg, we decided that we needed to try all things before giving up on my dad. The feeding tube was put in and he began to receive nutrients. His color came back and so did a bit of strength, enough to at least sit in a wheelchair. He was then moved to a rehab facility for therapy where we hope his quality of life can improve.

Not much has changed since he’s been there, he still cannot walk or move much and his mind is not there. When I visit, I always pray he’ll know who I am that day and some days my prayers are answered, other days it’s like he’s looking right through me. Things will not get better, I will not get my dad back and he will never be coming home with us again. Although these things have been hard to accept I am grateful for the 27 years I had with my dad. 27 years of love and laughs, adventures, fights, and being a family. No one can take those moments away from me and I know that whatever is to happen in these months that follow, I will forever carry my dad with me. He will never leave my side and I will forever be daddy’s little girl.

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To those who read this and have gone through something similar, my heart is with you. Be strong, know that God has a plan and sometimes God needs his best angels back sooner than we would like.

xo,

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Turkey Picadillo Protein Pasta Recipe

Hello hello! Today I’m sharing one of my all time favorite recipes to make that’s easy, healthy and yummy. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you saw the mini recipe about this dish I posted & after getting countless requests for the full  recipe, here we are.

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I LOVE any dish that includes Picadillo & this has become one of my staples. You can make this dish with regular ground beef & pasta if you wish but to keep the dish macro friendly I use lean ground turkey and protein pasta. Let’s get started!

Prep Time: 15 Min

Cook Time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Picadillo:

  • 93% Lean Ground Turkey
  • 1 Small Can of Low Sodium Tomato Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Complete Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Mojo Criole Marinade
  • Pinch of Sea Salt

Pasta:

  • 1 Box Barilla Protein Plus Rotini Pasta
  • 1 Jar of Tomato & Basil Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Low-Fat Mozzarella Cheese

 

 

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Put ground turkey on a plate & add your onion, garlic, salt & complete seasoning
  • Next add your mojo marinade and 1/2 of the low sodium tomato sauce
  • Allow to marinate for 10-15 minutes
  • While you let the turkey sit, bring water to a boil in a medium sized pot
  • Add pasta and a pinch of salt and stir.
  • As pasta cooks, add a little olive oil to a medium sized pan and add your seasoned turkey
  • Begin to cook on medium heat.
  • As it cooks, add in the 1/2 left of tomato sauce.
  • Stir the picadillo and cook until brown.
  • Take your pasta and drain the water from it and place back on stove on low heat.
  • Add in your cooked turkey to pasta and mix.
  • Add in your tomato and bail sauce and mix (I usually add half a jar)
  • Lastly, add 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and mix in for melted cheese goodness

VOILA! You’re done! Quick, easy and good for you! Let me know how your dishes come out when you try this!

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xx

New Year, New Health Goals

As 2017 comes to a close, many of us are setting up goals for the new year. Things like go to the gym and eat healthier. If you’re like me, your eating habits are pretty good but sometimes you need a little help. I decided to get a head start on my 2018 goal of eating clean(er) and switching up my diet to include my favorite dishes by making them on the healthier side.

With a little help from my friends at Deliver Lean, I was able to do just that. I’m busy as hell ALL the time and cooking is usually the last thing on my mind. I try my hardest to meal prep on Sundays but sometimes I’m just not in the mood & if you know me, you know I hate cooking, H A T E. That’s when I decided to try a meal planning service. Cue Deliver Lean to the rescue

Deliver Lean is South Florida’s leading meal delivery service. With four meal plans to choose from, including Classic, Paleo, Vegetarian and Vegan, over 100 different menu items rotating weekly, add-ons like cold-pressed organic juice, kids meals, snacks and desserts, plus exclusive access to choose your own meals and track your macros online, DeliverLean gives customers all the tools and freedom to customize the perfect meal plan for their lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for health and convenience or have weight loss goals in mind, DeliverLean has you covered.

I decided to go with a mix of their Paleo and Classic dish options to help keep my diet on track and manage my weight without losing too much muscle. See some of my meal choices below. My favorite dishes were the Media Noche Sandwich, Flax seed Waffle w/ Turkey Bacon, Thai Style Marinated Chicken with Brown Rice and Black Bean Edamame Burger.

The food was de-li-cious! It tasted fresh and some of the dishes were so good I kept thinking there’s no way they can be healthy. I also loved how each meal came with the macros printed on the container. After a week of meals I was hooked and made sure to sign up for an additional two weeks. You can’t beat the quality of the meals and the convenience of having them delivered fresh to your door.

Check out how yummy some of my meals looked (and tasted!). 2018 is the perfect excuse to try out Deliver Lean and get back on track after all that Holiday food. Cheers to the new year everyone!

 

5 Tricks to Boost Your Hair’s Thickness

*This is a contributed post

Fed up with your flat, lifeless hair? You’re not the only one. With the festive season fast approaching and plenty of parties on the horizon, it’s no surprise that you want to look your best. If your hair is getting you down, do something! These handy volume-boosting tricks will give you thicker, bouncier hair that that will leave you glowing inside and out.

1. Be blunt about it

A blunt haircut is perfect for making your hair look thicker. Giving the ends a good trim will clear any dead hair while also creating the illusion of fullness. You can still have your layers cut into it, but be sure to ask your stylist to blunt the ends. You can find some great inspiration for blunt cuts on Pinterest for all hair lengths.

2. Blow dry like a pro

If your hair looks amazing when you step out of the salon, but flat when you do it yourself – your blow dry game could be to blame. Blow-drying your hair properly can make it look much thicker, while also giving your style some hold. Add some volumizing mist to your roots and focus on adding some volume – a round brush works best for this. If you’re in a hurry, simply flip your head upside down to blow dry your hair for an instant volume boost.

3. Add extensions

For full-looking, glamorous hair, you can’t beat a set of hair extensions. If you don’t want to opt for bonds, then some tape in hair extensions are the perfect solution. Simply use them when you want a thicker style, and take them out when you’re ready. Hair extensions can be styled just like real hair, while others come in ready-curled and wave varieties. Tape in hair extensions blend easily with your own hair for a natural look that nobody but you will be able to detect!

4. Tease your hair

Teasing hair is a classic technique for adding texture and volume. Learning how to tease your hair takes practice, and all you need is a tail comb and some hairspray. If you’ve got particularly fine hair, don’t overdo it or tease your hair too often as you could end up causing some damage and thinning your hair even further. Remember to smooth down your hair after teasing and backcombing to keep it looking sleek.

5. Create a fuller up-do with a simple band trick

Ariana Grande is famous for her high ponytail style which looks thick and luscious – but seemingly impossible to achieve yourself. One simple trick for getting a fuller ponytail to separate it into two. When wrapping the band around your hair, only wrap the bottom half of your hair through the last twist – this will separate the hair to create a much fuller-looking ponytail.

 

Making your hair look thicker is just one A-list fashion hack that helps give them that star quality. Experiment with thickening products and different styling techniques to help you get thicker, luscious hair that will leave you feeling beautiful inside and out.

 

Skincare 101: How to Start a Routine

Skincare 101: How to Start a Routine

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If you follow me, you know I am all about skincare. A good skincare routine is essential to keeping your skin glowing and looking as youthful as can be, no matter how many times you celebrate your 21st birthday.

Starting a skincare routine can seem daunting and very overwhelming. Do you need toner? Eye Cream? Retinol? How much money should your eye cream even cost? $10, $20, $80?

Let’s all take a deep breath together and I’ll break things down for you
& your very first skincare routine! Ready, let’s talk skincare!

#1 Cleanser – This is the base of your skincare routine. You want a cleanser that’s effective in removing your makeup and the days Friné from your face.

Depending on your skin tone, you’ll want a cleanser that targets a specific concern you have. For me it’s oil control & acne clearing. My favorite cleanser for this is Clean and Clear benzoyl peroxide wash. It keeps my skin clear & shine free.

#2 Toner – This is and should always be the second thing you do after washing your face. Toner helps to remove any final impurities from the skin while soothing and repairing. It also preps your skin for the next steps in your regime. I love this Witch Hazel toner, it’s the bomb.com.

#3 Serum – Here’s where you can apply serums depending on your skin’s needs. For myself, I focus on brightening and oil control. I love to add a Vitamin C serum with oil control benefits, followed by my FAVORITE serum from Clarin’s, their Hydra-Essential Bi Phase to give my skin a radiance boost. I swear this serum alone has made my skin glow, highly recommend. If you don’t know where to start, any serum with Vitamin C is a sure  bet. The serum will brighten your skin while helping fine lines and your tone. I love to switch my serums up depending on my skin’s needs that week and for my oily girls, no worries as adding an oil to your regime will NOT make your skin oilier. On the contrary, it helps balance our your skin!

#4 Moisturize – THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. IF YOU DO ONE THING, DO THIS. I cannot stress this enough, moisturizing is key to good skin. This step along helps keep skin hydrated, acts a barrier so daily irritants doesn’t enter your skin, and helps your skins tone & texture. It can also help keep fine lines at bay and balance your skin. Like I said, if you pick one thing from this list, pick this one! I love the moisturizer from Olay, it’s amazing and has added benefits like anti-aging.

#5 Eye Cream – I take my eye cream seriously as I do NOT want crow’s feet early on. When applying make sure to dab lightly onto your crow’s feet and under the eye area, DAB not rub. Pick a cream that’s on the thicker side as this hydrates the delicate eye area better. My favorite is this Olay one. (I swear Olay’s creams are the shiiiitttt)

#6 BONUS: Retinol – This is essential to good skin once you hit your mid twenties. Including a retinol in your regime does a ton of good for your skin. It helps control oil and reduce pore size; it also helps reduce fine lines and prevent wrinkles from forming. This miracle cream can also help fade discoloration and brighten your skin. Prescription strength ones work best, but over the counter options are just as good. Try this one from Peter Thomas Roth. Retinol will dry your skin out though so make sure to hydrate and moisturize your skin plenty!

If you want to add a weekly step to  your routine, make sure you are exfoliating! Doing this 1-2x a week will help slough off dead skin cells and reveal your radiant & smooth skin below. I’ve made my own using honey, brown sugar and essential oils.

Now you’re ready to take on the skin care world, one step at a time! What are your favorite skincare tips? Share below! xo

Fashion Hacks The A-List Love

*This is a contributed post*

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Although Hollywood is almost exclusively peopled by those who are genetically gifted, they are also helped every step of the way to look their best. Attended by an army of professional makeup artists, dietitians, personal trainers, hair stylists and – less openly – cosmetic surgeons, the already high stakes are raised even further, which can leave us mere mortals feeling as though they’re barely real. While you may not have access to the kinds of budgets that A-listers can work with, there are some simple styling tricks you can use to celebrate your figure.

Belt it Up

Want to lose a few pounds instantly? Who doesn’t! But we often overlook the simple slimming power of a well-placed belt, especially when dressing in bulkier layers during the colder months. A statement belt can instantly lift last season’s winter coat or add shape to an oversized sweater – and do a better job of defining your figure than a month on the 5:2 diet!

Flip Reverse It

Have an awkward neckline to deal with? Try wearing a top the opposite way to how it was initially intended. A scoop neck blouse can become a pretty backless top showing off a lacy cami underneath, and shirts can be half-way unbuttoned and pushed down over the shoulders to give a Bardot neckline. Think outside the box, and it’s amazing what you can create.

Stretch Those Tight Shoes

If you have bought a pair of shoes on sale that are just a little too tight, you could try this easy trick. Fill two ziplock bags two-thirds full with water, insert inside the shoe, and then pop them in the freezer overnight. The bags will expand as the water freezes, gently expanding the shoe and creating a bit of vital extra wiggle room for your feet!

Find Stain Removing Wonders

We’ve all been there –  a disaster when you get foundation, lipstick or even Sharpie ink all over a favorite piece of clothing. But it doesn’t have to be destined for the bin, or even a trip to the dry cleaners. You already have things lying around the house that can help! For instance, spraying a lipstick stain with hairspray before washing it will ensure it comes out as good as new, shaving cream can get rid of foundation stains and hand sanitizer can make short work of Sharpie stains. Bonus tip – a little Windex can restore the shine to faded patent leather accessories too.

Enhance Your Assets

Want a little more up top, but still unsure about that breast augmentation? There are some clothing hacks out there to cheat an awesome cleavage. Some girls swear by wearing two bras layered over each other – one a cup size smaller than usual and the other padded. Others simply twist the centre chest panel round a couple of times to get their bra to push up a little more.

There are so many fashion hacks out there, you could find a new one for every day of the year. What’s your favorite fashion hack? Share it below!