Category Archives: Beyond Food Fridays

Lavender Tallow Balm {Beyond Food Fridays}

Beyond Food Fridays
Welcome to Beyond Food Fridays where I share my thoughts on non-food topics such as skin & hair care, body image, and other fun tips and tricks for how to be healthy and vibrant inside and out!

Shortly after switching my diet to a diet of whole, unrefined foods free of nasty additives and chemicals, I realized that even though I was avoiding chemical junk in my food, there was still all sorts of chemical crap in the products I was using on my body. The skin is the largest organ and what you put on your skin enters your body just as the things you eat do. Except that what you absorb through your skin doesn’t go through the digestive system where toxins can be filtered out before entering the blood stream. For this reason it is just as important, if not more so, to avoid toxic skin care products.

Because of this I don’t enjoy all the nasty chemicals found in conventional beauty products and even in the “all natural” products. I like to know what I am putting on my body just as much as I like to know what I am putting in my body and I don’t put anything on my body that I wouldn’t also put in my body. I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to eat propylene glycol or sodium lauryl sulfate so I’d rather not put on my skin either.

Lavender Tallow Balm {Beyond Food Fridays} | Vibrant Life Army Wife

Don’t be fooled by products claiming to be “all natural” either. The regulations for labeling skin care products are not as strict as those for labeling foods (not that those are overly strict either) so companies can get away with labeling things as natural that contain chemicals that aren’t exactly natural or even safe. For example, propylene glycol which is present in many “natural” products such as deodorant, shampoo and lotion, is classified as a skin irritant according to the Environmental Working Group. It also enhances skin absorption which means it increases the skin’s ability to absorb all the other toxins that are present in conjunction with the propylene glycol. It is also the main ingredient in antifreeze. I’ll pass, thanks! (For a list of other ingredients to avoid see here.)

Despite the mislabeling (IMHO) of skin care products, there are a handful of companies doing things the right way. However, these can sometimes be expensive and even if they aren’t prohibitively expensive I’m just a fan of simplicity and a good DIY project. I currently make my own lotion, lip balm, deodorant, toothpaste, and this tallow balm. (Ya, I do realize I am a dirty hippie, but hey that’s just how I roll!)

Lavender Tallow Balm {Beyond Food Fridays} | Vibrant Life Army Wife

Wtf is tallow, you ask? Tallow is beef fat that has been rendered. Why tallow? Tallow’s fatty acid composition is very similar to that of human skin (around 50 to 55% saturated fat) so it is very compatible with our skin. Tallow is high in vitamins A, D, K, and E all of which are necessary for skin health and only found in animal products. Tallow is also high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) known for its anti-inflammatory properties (source). Traditional cultures understood the benefits of using the entire animal including its fats, something that is missing in society today.

So, basically what I am trying to say is that you should get some good quality tallow from grass fed cows and make this recipe!

Lavender Tallow Balm {Beyond Food Fridays} | Vibrant Life Army Wife


4.0 from 1 reviews
Lavender Tallow Balm
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Body Care
  • ¼ cup tallow
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 16 drops lavender essential oil
  1. Melt tallow in a double boiler
  2. Remove from heat and add olive oil and essential oil
  3. Mix until incorporated with whisk or blend with immersion blender
  4. Makes one 4oz jar worth

I use this tallow balm on my body and I swear my skin has never been so soft. Because tallow is so compatible with the composition of our skin it is easily absorbed, although it does take a few minutes, and it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on your skin. And I promise you won’t smell like a steak!

I buy my beef tallow from a local farm, Sand Creek Farm, but you can also order it online from U.S. Wellness Meats or Fatworks. In my experience, buying tallow from a local farm or at your local farmer’s market is typically the best and least expensive option.

If you’re interested in trying out a tallow based lotion but you aren’t a big fan of DIYing check out this body balm from Vintage Tradition which is pretty similar to my recipe, or this face cream from FATface Skincare that contains some other beneficial oils and essential oils in addition to tallow.  And if rubbing beef fat on your face just doesn’t appeal to you, I have other lotion recipes made from plant based oils I’d be happy to share as well. Leave me a comment and let me know if you try this or if you’d prefer a plant based alternative!

In vibrant health,


How to Love Yourself a Little More Everyday {Beyond Food Fridays}

Beyond Food Fridays
Welcome to Beyond Food Fridays where I share my thoughts on non-food topics such as skin & hair care, body image, and other fun tips and tricks for how to be healthy and vibrant inside and out!

How to Love Yourself a Little More Every Day {Beyond Food Fridays} | Vibrant Life Army Wife

Last week on the first installment of Beyond Food Fridays I discussed my personal struggles with body image and a little bit about how I’ve overcome them. Today on the second Beyond Food Friday I’m here to provide you with some strategies to overcome body image issues (and it does not involve losing weight, “getting fit” or any other physical change to the body). So if you’re like me and you need a little help in this area, follow the steps I outline below and learn to love yourself a little more everyday!

Do something you do well, and do it often. Doing things you’re good at builds your confidence and this confidence in many cases is transferred to other aspects of your life. So if you’re a really good cook, cook up a storm. If you are super artistic, draw. If you are a bad ass athlete, keep training. You will feel confident in your abilities which will translate to overall confidence.

Do something you love. This kind of goes along with doing something you’re good at because we often love the things we are good at otherwise we wouldn’t do them. But sometimes we love something that we aren’t so good at but it makes us feel good anyway and this can help boost our overall confidence. For example, I’ve talked before about how I started lifting weights. Well, I’m not particularly good at it. I can’t lift all that heavy (yet) and I don’t really know what I’m doing. However, I truly enjoy it and as I get stronger I don’t just feel better about my weight lifting abilities; I also feel better about my body because of what it is capable of doing.

Ditch the scale. I’ve written about this a little before as well and I think this is one of the most important things you can do in order to love your body more. So often we get caught up on a number. The whole once I lose x number of pounds or once I weigh x amount, I will feel good about myself thing is a load of bull. Your self worth should not be based on some arbitrary number. And more often than not that number doesn’t tell the whole story. You could weigh more than what you want but be perfectly healthy because you have some muscle mass. Or on the other hand, you could weigh your “perfect” amount but stop ovulating because you’ve thrown your hormones out of whack by being at a weight that is too low for you personally. So get rid of your scale and start basing your progress on how you feel, your overall level of health, and how hot you look when you look in the mirror.

Practice self affirmation. Speaking of how hot you look in the mirror… tell yourself that and do it often. Self affirmation may seem silly and hokey (I certainly thought it was) but I’m telling you it works. Instead of pinching the fat on your body and wishing this or that “imperfection” would go away, look at yourself and say “I am beautiful” or “I am sexy” or whatever else you want. Appreciate your body for what it is and what it can do, don’t bash it because it doesn’t fit into a size zero. And if you’re feeling up to it, you can always dance naked to Kenny Loggins as Liz Wolfe suggests!

Maintain perspective. If you’re trying to reach a certain goal, whether that’s weight loss, gut healing, or some other goal, keep in mind that change takes time. Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t lose 10 lbs in a week. Go easy on yourself and your body and celebrate the little things because it’s those small achievements that lead to significant growth over time.

Wear clothes that fit your body as it is now. I find that most of my slips into negative self talk revolve around trying on clothes. If I put on something that used to fit me and it no longer does, all of a sudden all I can think is “I’m so fat!” (even though the problem is usually muscle mass, not fat). And don’t get me started on trying on bras or bathing suits… the lighting in dressing rooms always seems to highlight every single “flaw” doesn’t it? These situations are somewhat unavoidable; sometimes you need a swim suit and bras are kind of necessary (but really, are they?). What you can avoid is actually wearing those clothes that don’t fit. When you wear clothes that you feel comfortable in and that show off your figure because they fit your body correctly, you feel good. That’s just a fact! So stop trying to squeeze in those two sizes too small skinny jeans or that top you wore in high school and find clothes that show off what you’ve got!

Stop comparing yourself to other people. This one is hard as it is human nature to compare yourself to those around you. But you aren’t doing yourself any good by doing so. Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of joy” and I 100% agree. If you keep comparing yourself to other people you will never be fully happy with yourself. And you need to keep in mind that health looks different on everyone. Some people are skinny fat: they look skinny and healthy on the outside but they eat crappy food and their blood work looks terrible. Some people are super fit and lean but have issues with restrictive eating and/or excessive exercise, or they aren’t menstruating (and isn’t fertility the epitome of health as a woman?). Some people appear larger or have a little extra junk in the trunk and are super healthy. Every person is unique and every body looks and acts differently. So stop comparing yourself to the people around you and own your uniqueness because that is what makes you you.  If we all looked exactly the same that would be pretty boring.

I hope these tips help you love yourself more because we are all beautiful and deserving of love, and who will love us better than our own selves? If you are interested in reading more about body image issues and self acceptance check out Stefani Ruper’s blog and her book. She tackles these issues way more eloquently and with way more knowledge than I can. And I’m always here to help as well so feel free to email me or contact me via social media!

In vibrant health,


Ditching the Scale {Beyond Food Fridays}

Beyond Food Fridays
I’m starting a new series called Beyond Food Fridays where I will share my thoughts on non-food topics such as skin & hair care, body image, and other fun tips and tricks for how to be healthy and vibrant inside and out!

Ditching the ScaleOkay guys, for the first installment of Beyond Food Fridays I’m going to get a little personal. Today I want to talk a little about body image and self love as it is something that I’ve been working on a lot lately in my own life. I’m going to try to do this topic justice as best as I can since I know it can be a little bit of a sensitive issue.

I’ve struggled with my body image for as long as I can remember. I was a ballet dancer growing up and I think that really set the stage for the idea that I needed to be skinny to be beautiful. That paired with all the other societal influences like TV, magazines, etc. I certainly was never fat growing up, in fact I was relatively thin. But I never had that stick thin “dancer body” that I thought I needed, so in my head I was never skinny enough.

Ditching the Scale

This is me at 13 in Mexico. I remember being self conscious in my bikini because I wasn’t “skinny enough.”

When I was in 8th grade it was deemed necessary for me to have surgery in order to fix some issues I was having with my acid reflux disease. The surgery involved sewing a portion of my stomach lining around the opening to the esophagus to prevent the reflux from occurring. I was told that I would not be able to eat solid food for a while until the swelling and scar tissue went down and that I wouldn’t be able to eat large quantities of food at one time because I could choke. I was almost happy to hear these things because I thought that if I couldn’t eat much at one time and was forced to eat super slowly, I would be eating less overall which would cause me to lose weight. As a 13 year old I was excited to get surgery because it would make me skinnier. I think back on this now and it makes me so sad. I just want to go give 13 year old Kiersten a big hug! In the end, the surgery helped my acid reflux symptoms, but it did not give me the skinny “dancer body” that I wanted.

All throughout high school I struggled with my body image, engaging in negative self talk on a regular basis and spending way too much time in front of the mirror pinching the fat on my body. Between going to the gym and dancing, I exercised a ton and I ate way too few calories with my breakfasts of light yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat sandwich thins for lunch, and lean cuisines for dinner. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting thinner when I was doing everything “right.”

In college, I made semi better choices as far as food goes (and by semi better choices I mean I ate more vegetables and went gluten free), but I was still obsessive about portions and I overdid it on the cardio for sure. The weighing myself, fat pinching, and calorie counting continued as well and I just didn’t feel good in my own skin.

Then, back in September of 2013 I discovered the Paleo diet through my wonderful friend Natalie, after a year long stint with vegetarianism (that was a mistake). I switched to a whole foods diet and started feeling a lot better. A couple months later, after a foot injury and a ton of research on why weight training is better for you than running (see here and here), I gave up my excessive cardio habit, which at the time had me running almost 30 miles a week, and started doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) and a lot of body weight exercises. Despite the fact that I was only exercising about 20-30 minutes at a time, as opposed to roughly an hour, my body started changing more than it ever had before. I was getting stronger, my muscles started to get more toned and I felt better and more confident than I ever had before. So I gave up running for good and started adding free weights into my workout routine.

Ditching the Scale

Me now eating some delicious local grass fed gelato without an ounce of guilt!

Despite the fact that I now weigh more than I ever have before (because of an increase in muscle mass), I have never felt better. I no longer weigh myself (expect when I have to at the doctors office) and when I look in the mirror I see a strong body that is capable of doing amazing things. Sure, I have plenty of moments when I don’t love what I see, but these moments are fleeting and I am able to turn the negativity around pretty quickly instead of spiraling down a path of self hate like I used to.

I love my body because it enables me to live a happy, healthy, active life. I may not look like a ballet dancer or a supermodel or a competitive athlete but that’s okay with me. I look like Kiersten. I am still not exactly where I would like to be, but I can move toward my goals with a healthy mind set, self love, and the overarching goal of optimal health that I was lacking before. Because that should be our goal: to be healthy and happy, not to look like a supermodel or whatever society says is “beautiful.”

I am so thankful to my wonderful husband for always loving me despite my insecurities and who has always done an amazing job of making me feel beautiful and sexy. But ultimately I had to find this within myself. It’s a journey to get to a place where you can love your body, and I doubt I will ever get to a place where I am completely free of all negative thoughts, but I am doing the best I can. I encourage you to do the same. Ditch the scale, stop the negative self talk, and love your body for what it is and what it can do. If you have goals you want to reach then go for it! But do so in a healthy way, with the right mind set and a focus on overall health.

In vibrant health,