Cell phone

Turn off that phone for some down time

Grow-Out Challenge routine

Like Kim Coles, for me, the Grow-Out Challenge will encompass more than just hair. During this six-month journey, I will challenge myself to:

1. Compartmentalize my life and learn to be present.

2. Eat healthier, minimally processed foods, and resume my regular workout routine.

3. Achieve the BIGGEST hair I can—keeping more strands and retaining length.

Break, break down

Part 1. The blog has grown to monumental proportions, and while I greatly enjoy keeping you dolls abreast on all things curly, sometimes I find myself a bit distracted from real life. That, plus my psychotherapy career, managing a household, and living with a man who is currently dissertating (sweet baby Jesus give me strength)... let's just say the plate is full. Did I mention we'll probably be relocating this year? Oh, and I still have to fulfill the renewal requirements for my therapy license. So yeah. Dayum.

I notice that even when I put the computer down and turn off my cell (which I HAVE to do or else I compulsively check it every 5 minutes), my mind is still on work. I can be out with Gene and Gia, or enjoying a stolen moment alone, and find myself stressing over that interview I haven't transcribed yet, or worried if Ms. X really was suicidal yesterday. I'm juggling a lot, but I know that there must be some schedule, some routine that I can develop that will allow me to be successful at what I do, while enjoying the present. Still figuring it out...

Part 2. For the first time in my life, I'm truly thankful for my petite stature... my chicken legs. Thankful that I was predisposed to lose that baby weight, which I think was mostly water. However, according to the results of my last two physicals, my cholesterol is a teeny bit high. What can I say? I love bacon, it's good for me.

While pregnant (out of fear of gaining excessively), I walked 3 miles daily, and ate rather healthfully... save for the occasional strawberry pancakes. I gained 40 pounds, and now, at 5 months post-partum, have lost 42 pounds. YAY! Now that I'm back down and feeling like Nikki, many of my old habits have returned. When I say old habits, I don't mean habits from 2001. Long before I became preggers I had changed my lifestyle... eating whole grains, avoiding fried foods, sodas, sugary sweets, and drinking lots and lots of water. My problem is, I'll go hard and jump on the wagon for 2 weeks, only to fall off head first.

Fried chicken

Stay away from fatty, fried foods

My weakness—fried things with cheese. Oh, and cakes, cookies, and pies.

When I was pregnant, I felt guilty for eating fatty, sugary things and could convince myself to opt for something healthier but still filling. Now that it's just me, I find myself in line at Popeye's, Mayflower, and our local soul food establishment multiple times weekly. Mmm... fried okra. I eat a lot of fast food because I can't fry things myself out of fear of being popped by grease.

I'm also a fair weather exerciser—I only walk in the spring and fall because I hate the heat, hate the cold, and hate the treadmill.

All of that to say, during these 6 months, I'm off the stuff. Fried stuff... except for once a week. Other than that, it's the Trader Joe's freezer section for me. I'm eating oatmeal and fruit smoothies for breakfast, packing lunch, and cooking dinner. And starting today, I'm walking again.

Part 3. I'm still losing hair by the fist-fulls. The strands that have managed to hang on are dry and, at times, crunchy. I'm trimming tomorrow and officially starting my Grow Out Challenge routine. My goal is not for longer hair (I'm comfortable at my current length), but for greater volume. A chin to shoulder length bob is my ideal length and frames my face well.

My routine

Detangle dry hair in sections with fingers first, following up with the Tangle Teezer. Twist each section as I go to keep hair from re-tangling

Wash in twists with Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo

Deep condition (in twists) with MYHoneyChild Olive You, Jessicurl Weekly Deep Conditioner, or Curl Junkie Rehab Moisturizing Hair Treatment and my micro heat cap for 30 minutes

Apples

Stick to a healthy diet

Rinse (hair still in twists) and air dry for 15-20 minutes

Divide bigger twists into smaller twists using KeraCare Leave-in or CURLS Milkshake. This step stretches my natural curl to prevent fairy knots

Seal the ends with shea butter

Air dry overnight

Free-form curly bun (using a Goody Ouchless band) until Friday

On weekends, I'll dry Twist-n-Curl if I have plans (detangling with my fingers and the Tangle Teezer, using CURLS Curl Souffle to set), wear it out for 2-3 days, and then bun again

I'll repeat the bun/Twist-n-Curl routine twice before re-washing. My hair will be bunned 90% of the time

Nightly

When bunning, I will either:

Loosen the bun, apply shea to edges, and tie with a scarf, or -

Remove the bun, moisturize, re-bun, apply shea to my edges, and tie down with a scarf

When wearing it out -pineapple and sleep on satin

Daily

Drink at least 64 oz of water (I add a little cranberry juice)

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Take Rainbow Light Prenatal One, Slow Release Iron, Sublingual Liquid B Complex, and my birth control

Monthly

Henna gloss

In the words of my late English teacher, this note is starting to get verbose, and I've had more than a few glasses of wine. I'll check in soon!

Later Gators,

Nik

Besides healthy hair, what else will you be working on during the Kim Coles Grow-Out Challenge?