How to Shop with Meal Planning

Living in New York is expensive. Some of you may not realize just how expensive it is. To give you an idea, to rent a studio in the city is easily $2,000 or more per month. Just to move in, generally a deposit of 1.5, sometimes 2.5, times rent is required.

Most young adults will get their dinners online, through nearby delis, and pizza shops. I don’t even want to know how expensive their eating habits get. I hardly ever go out for dinner these days. Usually only when it’s free, or my boyfriend and I are spending some quality time out.

I get along with a little over $25 per week on groceries. At the end of each month, my food costs usually end up around $100 – $125. In New York, that’s cheap!! $25 is enough to buy some veggies, staple foods like almonds and quinoa that last a while, and a few other items for creating a recipe. Anywhere else, I’d probably only be spending $50 – $70 a month for what I get!

Here’s the secret to saving on food (while eating healthy). Cook your own food, do not buy extra junk food in the middle isles (or only very rarely), and plan out your meals!

How do I plan my meals?
Well, it does help that I’m always thinking of food and what food I can throw together next. The way I meal plan is on a week to week basis, considering fruit and vegetables only last 1-2 weeks in the fridge.

Each week, I find recipes and decide what I will be eating for the entire week. I’ve been doing my meal planning this way long enough now that it comes pretty naturally to me. I itemize everything I need to buy for the recipes and I make sure I  will have enough ingredients for a large batch. Usually I pick out one lunch and one dinner, with some spare veggies/snack food and backup food in case the recipes I make don’t last a week. However, usually they last longer.

So, find your recipes, decide what you need to tide you over for the week, and plan on a shopping trip.

Should I buy sale items?
Who doesn’t love a good food sale? Buy sale items when you can, but only when you need them. For example, I buy oatmeal for breakfast and go through a lot. Whenever I can find cheap oatmeal, I will stock up. Stocking up on sale items that you NEED and usually buy saves you money in the long run, even if you go over your budget for the week. It will even itself out in the following weeks.

Don’t be tempted to buy sale items that you wouldn’t normally buy, or that you don’t need. It’s a waste of money and a gimmick!

How do I plan with a specific budget?
As I said before, I spend around $25 per week on groceries. It’s not easy, though. I have to plan out this budget. With enough practice, you will begin to learn how much food a certain budget will get you and how much each food item you will normally be buying costs.

While I’m meal planning, I’m also considering the costs of each item I add to my grocery list. Higher priced items such as bulk food (rice), qunioa, and almonds add up quick so I try to buy only one or two of these per week. Remember, this is New York we’re talking about. The food here is very expensive, so I keep my personal food shopping very minimal.

At the store, I prioritize my grocery list. I grab what I really need first and I add up the exact prices on a calculator on my phone. That way, I know how close I am to meeting my budget. Once I have the items I really need, I start looking at items I can stock up on and fill the remaining money left over in my budget. Items I want to buy, to stock up on, or ingredients in a recipe that I was going to skimp out on.

Sometimes, if I need, I let my budget go slightly over, especially if it has been two or more weeks since food shopping.

Where do I find recipes to meal plan?
I find most of my meal-planning inspiration on Pintrest! The plethora of recipes there are endless and searching for a specific type of meal is so easy! Or, if I’m craving a particular food, I’ll search online the week before I go shopping and find a recipe I want. Then I just write down the ingredients I will need to buy for my shopping list.

Should I substitute ingredients with cheaper items?
When I can, I do substitute ingredients a lot. Often, I will also leave ingredients, such as uncommon spices, out unless I think it’s something I will use a lot of in the future. For example, if I were to make lasagna or a lasagna-type dish, I would use small curd cottage cheese instead of ricotta. I love ricotta, but it’s hard to afford items like this on a tight budget. Do note that I forgo taste more often than the healthfulness and cheapness of a dish. But even though I substitute and skip ingredients, my food tends to still turn out tasty!

 

Note that these answers are based on the opinions of  a health-conscious young adult with no one else to support and a very small budget. I believe children/dependents would change the rules a bit, but you could modify them to fit your needs. Also, if I had more money to spend on food, I probably would buy nicer stuff and make fancier recipes. But I would still have a budget.

I hope you find these tips as useful as I do!

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

On Self-Sufficiency and Adulthood

I know I’m biased. It is because of how I was raised. But I have one of these pet peeve things, which  is young adults depending too much on their parents.

My upbringing was good. I had a good childhood. A little drama here and there, but my mom protected my brother and I from the bulk of it. I admire and look up to my mother for many reasons. One thing I’m particularly grateful for are the values my mother instilled into me of how I looked at money.

Somewhere along the way, likely with encouragement from my mom, I also developed a strong sense of self sufficiency and independence.

These traits have served me well and brought me a long way. Without the need for self sufficiency, the need to pay my own way and owe money to nobody but myself, I would have never moved to New York.

Okay, maybe if I grew up in an affluent home and my family didn’t want me to learn any valuable life lessons, I might have moved to New York under such circumstances.

Regardless of wealth though, independence is a freeing, rewarding experience into adulthood. You learn things. You become more able and capable than you ever thought possible. You know that no one is going to bail you out of a sinkhole, so you learn ways to stay afloat.

Tell me, if you parents wrote you a $1,000 check every month… Heck even every other month… What value does that money have? Have you rightfully earned it? Have you learned a lesson? No. In fact, the opposite has happened. It teaches you a bad habit. It teaches you that, when you’re in trouble, someone is going to bail you out. You just have more money from your parents tucked away and you keep living a mindless, immature fantasy world of what it’s really like to be an adult. What do you do if, heaven forbid, nobody is there to lift you out of your rut anymore? Where is your self sufficiency? How will you get out now? Years of depending on your parents and their money will not teach you the skill sets to get you out of that rut!

Asking for, and accepting,  money from your parents should be a decision that is not taken lightly. You should first and foremost depend on yourself and you will, in turn, learn the proper lessons of success, money management, and maturity.

Pursue your dreams. Make them happen not with money from your parents, but hard earned money. Sweat and blood money. Your sweat and blood. Not only will you learn more valuable lessons, but the reward in the end is so much more satisfying. The uphill battle is yours and yours alone.

Thanks for letting me rant! And, as always…

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

Briauna Mariah’s Skin and Makeup Regimin

I don’t claim to have the best skin. It’s not the most flawless nor glowing, but it’s real. I have real ups and downs. Days of good looking skin not necessarily outweighing the days of broken-out skin. I have learned that the current state of my skin fluctuates with the seasons (I think), and it can get pretty bad. But there are some preventative measures I’ve been experimenting with and routines I do in order to ensure a nice face in the morning.

MORNING ROUTINE
I take showers in the morning, so I wash my face the most thoroughly in the mornings. The product that I’ve taken a liking to is Evologie face wash. It’s specifically for acne, and I know it’s taking good care of my skin. This face wash makes me feel like I’m doing something good for my face and leaves my skin feeling fresh and the bottle lasts a good few months. I also really like Evologie’s other products, their blemish serum, and face cream (I like them too much… because I keep using them up!). I’ve mentioned them in a previous post…. These products are good for essential skin hydration and extracting deep-seated acne.

I exfoliate sometimes. Honestly, I should exfoliate more often! I’d say a healthy amount to exfoliate is once or twice per week. Of course, you don’t want to over do it.

If I feel like hydrating my skin (especially because of how harsh I’m realizing winter is on my face), I will use a simple hydrating cream. Right now, what I have on hand is plain Ponds moisturizer as well as an aloe-based moisturizer called Infinite Aloe. This moisturizer feels great, doesn’t leave residue, and has similar ingredients to Nerium, which I will mention for my nightly routine (really good for redness).

Some other tips…. Throughout the rest of the day, I try to drink water as often as possible! Water is very cleansing and very nourishing for your body in general, which is a given! Humans obviously can’t live without water. But pure hydrating water does great things for your skin.

Ever hear of the phrase, “you are what you eat”? Well this is true too! I find that the better my diet is, the better my skin is!  Stay away from dairy, foods that spike your blood sugar, and gluten (wheat and dairy in general are bad. Read why here! I’m slowly trying to eliminate these from my own health-conscious diet.). Personally, I try to keep to mainly veggies, supplemented by protein (nuts, legumes, wheat-less grains, healthy fats, etc).

I find that my skin gets worse and stays that way if I mess with it. I feel like a key component to keeping my skin fresh and clear is, even if I have a blemish, to treat my skin with my products and to not touch/mess with it otherwise. On the days I do have a breakout and I really need to clear my skin, I will take an anti-biotic, which really seems to help. But I try not to rely on those. Stay away from antibiotics, as they could cause more problems than they solve.

I also feel that sweating a lot in the gym 4-5 times a week give me an extra edge on skin care. Whenever I sweat, I feel like that water is working alongside my workout to expedite clearing out the crud beneath the surface. I don’t think sweat on your skin is very good though, so make sure to shower/wash afterwards!

NIGHTLY ROUTINE
So, basically, on days that I’m home for most of the day and I don’t even need to put any makeup on, I’m set in terms of nightly skincare. For the most part.

On other days that have required me to put on makeup, especially after photoshoots with lot’s of cake-y makeup residue, I wash my face with the Evologie face wash again and wipe everything clean with a soft cloth (hey, there’s my exfoliation, right there!). I don’t bother with moisturizer again. I know my skin and it generally leans toward the oily side (especially in the summer). What my skin needs at this point in the day is to breathe. Makeup clogs pores, so avoid makeup where you can.

Before I go to bed, if I have any redness, or need to look fresh in the morning, I apply my Nerium night cream. Nerium is actually an anti-aging product, but does wonders for your skin. It’s basically like a freshening night mask that makes your skin younger, and helps reduce redness by repairing your skin cells and it is an antioxidant.

MAKEUP
I don’t usually wear makeup. Actually, I avoid wearing makeup. In a general sense, I have skin that I feel confident in, even with a blemish or two, and I would rather be all-naturale than waste money on expensive product and worsen my skin by trying to cover up the problem. Besides, when you DO put on a face of makeup, it just makes you that much more impressive to your friends!

When it is required of me to wear makeup for my job as a model (either to cover up blemishes, even out complexion, or highlight my features), I like to keep it simple and down to the products I have available to me.

I’ve been using this wonderful NARS tinted moisturizer for the base of my makeup and it really helps even out my skin tone. Many days, I will just use this moisturizer. Other days, I will use a concealer lightly underneath my eyes (usually I have some darkness there), and directly on major blemishes. I blend that out, apply some nice matching powder, put on mascara, and usually call it good! If I’m feeling like the occasion calls for a natural eye shadow, I will go that route, but as far as foundation, that’s about all I apply. Simple, natural, and pretty.

After I do all these things on a daily basis, let my skin breathe and heal on it’s own, my skin remains in a relatively healthy state with no breakouts! Now, if I stick with this exact routine, diet, and lifestyle through til next winter, that will be the real test! I’ve noticed my bad breakouts happen with the NYC cold weather.

The real secret is just beginning to understand what your skin is like, how it behaves, what it needs, and what it doesn’t need. Apply these things to YOUR skin consistently, and you should begin to have a confident, glow-y face!

You have nothing to lose!


Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

8 Tips for a Consistently Healthy Diet

For the past three years or so, I’ve been relatively healthy in diet and exercise. I’ve learned a lot. And each time I experience something new and learn, I become better. Better in general. I begin to understand more and more about my own body and nutrition and what feels good and what doesn’t feel so good.

At the beginning of 2014, I made a commitment to myself, my well-being. I was going to consistently eat right and exercise for the entire year. Measurements and weight aside, I wanted to be strong and energized and healthy. Until this commitment, I would have months of regression before going back to diet and exercise. While it’s only been two months, I want to share with you what are, and what will continue to be, my secrets to success.

8 Tips for a Consistently Healthy Diet

  1. Exercise often.
    Personally, the more I exercise, the less food I feel the need to consume. If I weigh myself down with food too much, I can’t exercise. So when I exercise, I eat lightly and feel great and know that my calories are going towards rebuilding muscles, and replenishing energy, not towards undesirable areas! They have to be good calories, though!Also, I find that the more I exercise, the more I am consistently motivated to get out to the gym and be active. So if it’s hard now, or even a month or three from now, if you stick with it, it will become easier and more enjoyable. I’m experiencing this process of enjoyment myself, slowly but surely. On the days I feel more lethargic, I motivate myself with my favorite running music. Try not to give in to those days.
  2. Drink LOTS of Water.
    Like regular exercise, this also helps with keeping you from eating too much. Drink a lot of water throughout the day and before every meal, and you will have less need (and less room) to fill yourself up with empty calories. It should be a no-brainer. Water is cleansing and drinking your daily dose can do great things for your body. I have to train my mind to drink more water. It’s harder than it sounds.Oh, and drink tea, also! Tea is good. I’ve officially eliminated the need to add sugar to my tea. Chia seeds are surprisingly good in tea, too! It is slightly more filling than water, if you need something with a little flavor, texture, and protein.
  3. Mix up your routines.
    Don’t eat the same thing every day; and don’t do the same workout routine every day, either, for that matter. Your body needs variety. Without variety, you could regress, become bored, and have cravings. Your body needs a plethora of different vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbs.By changing up your food intake (at least every week. I food-budget a couple types of meals per week), you’re less likely to become bored with the food, you discover more delicious ways to eat healthy, and you will begin to enjoy the food you’re eating more and more for it’s healthful values.
  4. Don’t weigh yourself obsessively.
    Let the results come naturally, along with the feeling of being invigorated with energy and quality foods. People don’t understand that the scale is only one small factor of what it means to be healthy. If you obsess over the numbers too much, it could become a big problem. Weight fluctuates and takes time. Instead, I like to focus on mirror-based results. As long as I’m feeling good, and eating right, the results will come naturally.Use weight as a reference point. Weigh yourself no more than once per week. Results are good, but what we really want to achieve here is long term health and fitness. Therefore:
  5. Think long term.
    Don’t give up. Keep yourself motivated.On the bad days, remind yourself that, even if results are slow to come (or even if you lost progress!), know that they will come, and know that a full year, two years, five years, will yield only good things for your body.
  6. Don’t overdo it.
    Some people restrict too much from their diet, too quick, in order to achieve faster results. What’s more important than fast results is how strong you feel, how much energy you have, and how healthy you feel.Don’t be too hard on yourself and listen to your body, in both diet and exercise.
  7. Know and understand your body.
    Learning about your body comes with time. You and only you know what it needs or what it doesn’t need. If a certain food is hard for you to eat in moderation, try to stay away. Unless you know you’ll have cravings and binge eat. In which case, I recommend saving the sugar cravings for your cheat days.Which brings me to my next point:
  8. Cheat days!
    Accept your cheat days. Let them be, whether it’s scheduled or they happen on their own. Even if you happen to overeat a few days in a row, let the snack attack happen, and continue on your way.My body knows what it needs and always tells me that I need to pull back, and then I’m back on track for another week until the next snack attack happens. Yes, I’m calling them snack attacks. They are quite savage and unforgiving. But I feel that these cheat days are very important for your sanity!

Who else will be joining me on my year long (and beyond) adventure to a hearty, healthy, fit lifestyle? What tips would you like to share? Successes/failures? Comment below. Also, check out my new interview with holistic health coach Jaison Greene!

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

Holistic Health Questions and Answers with Jaison Greene

Holistic health Q&A
with Jaison Greene (click for my pre-interview insights)!

Q: What is a common misconception about how many calories you should be eating?
A: Well, this is usually the place where people go first to lose weight.

What calories and calorie counting don’t take into consideration is what foods are related to those calories. You could have all very high calorie foods and only eat a few things and use up all your calories. That high calorie food you’re eating may or may not be unhealthy. It may just be a high calorie food like a healthy fat like an avocado. Or, it could be a Big Mac. The real question is how you discern the types of calories you’re getting.

Each type of food, whether its a fat, a carb, or a protein has a different caloric value. So when people say ‘I’m not eating carbs’, in their minds they’re talking about white carbs and fattening, starchy foods like potatoes, pasta and white rice. Kale, carrots, broccoli, and many healthy, ‘colorful,’  vegetables are all carbs as well. Caloric intake can provide a basic understanding of what a person is consuming. Numbers can be helpful to a point, but it only goes so far. Calories are best used as a guide to help understand what you are eating. Knowing caloric values can help assist in this understanding. Calories need to be personalized and specific to you, your lifestyle, and your metabolism.

Q: How important is balancing different types of carbs in your diet?
A: I think it’s important. Everything is a carb unless it’s a fat or protein. We all need carbohydrates to convert into glucose, which is the fuel that our body runs on. In fact, vegans and vegetarians are pretty much eating mostly carbs, with a little vegetable protein.

Carbohydrates are a very important building block of our bodies.  The types of carbs you are eating really do make a difference. I’ve worked with people who are vegetarians and they eat french fries and candy. The bottom line, when it comes to health, it’s all about balance. That is the goal. It is the destination. It’s a moving target, however, meaning it’s going to change as you get older. As your lifestyle changes, your body is going to want to find a new definition of balance.

Q: Along the lines of being vegetarian, what are the most important elements in a balanced vegetarian diet and do you recommend meat substitutes as a source of protein?
A:  If you seriously want to approach a healthy vegetarian diet, the first things for you to find out would be to understand your family history, a little bit about your metabolism, about your blood type, and do a couple of food elimination exercises. Food elimination is where you restrict your diet away from one particular food for one week and on the 8th day you overload on the food you’ve been restricting to see what kind of reaction your body has.

Once you get clear on what foods work for you and don’t work for you, there are a few building blocks of a healthy vegetarian diet you should focus on. Lean toward the colorful vegetables, the leafy greens, the oranges, the beets, the peppers, the melons, the squashes, the sweet potatoes, etc. Fruits and vegetables are going to be at the forefront.

Then, throw in legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds. If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough, supplement your diet with the grains, eggs, vitamins, etc. If you have to drink milk, coconut, almond, rice, etc. have been a great substitutes and a healthier options than cows milk has been a great substitute and a healthier option than cows milk.

Now, soy is a hot topic. There are people who believe soy is good for you in small amounts and is a great meat substitute. There are other people who believe that, because of the phytoestrogens in soy, it can adversely affect thyroid function or other important functions, such as hormone regulation. An unnatural disruption in your hormones can cause overgrowth of cells and tumors. There is some research that has been done on cancer linked to soy.

If you look at it in perspective, once soy became widely marketed as an alternative to meat, we started seeing more products with soy. Just like people who develop a gluten intolerance; if you’ve been eating soy your whole life, if it’s not right for your body, eventually your body is going to react. Your body might just take all this stuff you can’t process and put it somewhere for safekeeping. You don’t want to be storing bad stuff in your body for years to come.

Q:  What is the most commonly abused food that should be eliminated from diets?
A: Wheat. Whole wheat, white wheat, pasta, barley–all different names for wheat-based foods –you name it. The kind of modern, “franken-wheat” that is produced in this country (banned everywhere else) has got an addictive gene put in it on purpose. It digests super fast, your body has to store it quickly because it spikes your insulin, and because of the way it’s grown here, there’s no real nutrition. It’s a completely processed food.

Wheat these days is extremely irritating to the lining of your small intestine, where everything is absorbed into your body. Even when you don’t experience any adverse affects such as a gluten intolerance, it can be weighing you down in other ways. Wheat will give you the muffin-top and the pot belly, and it’s in beer and many other products. Gluten free is a great place to begin experimenting as a way to get away from wheat products, because gluten is a key culprit.

Right next to wheat, I would say comes dairy, as well. If we’re not drinking mother’s milk, then cow’s milk is the substitute. But adult cows don’t drink milk. Why are we drinking milk as humans, well into adulthood? If it’s for the calcium, you can get more calcium from broccoli. The kind of calcium you get from leafy greens is also more readily assimilated by your body when accompanied by citrus (lemons/limes/oranges). Dairy  can create a lot of excess mucus in your system, which slows down all other systems. It creates sinus infections, and it’s a huge contributor to allergies, and so on….

Q: So that seems like a very wide range of foods…

Well, yes, wheat and dairy. They speak to a wide range of foods, but here’s the thing, it’s all in moderation. If you ask me that question, that’s what I’ll say. It may not be the answer you want to hear, because then it compromises your lifestyle. Because then you have to choose between what you like to eat, what you want to eat, what’s easy to make, and self care. Addressing your health. Making changes that are going to be everlasting.

As a health coach, I’m not interested in trying to convince anybody that they need to have a health coach. That’s just too much work, plus they wouldn’t be a good client if they’re not ready anyway. Every time I meet with a client, I keep a record and we find what works, what they like, what they don’t like, what they say they want, and I just find the most interesting, enjoyable, impactful way to get them there.

Something I learned that was a big surprise to me was that it’s mostly not all about the food, either. It was a big revelation to understand that the thing that’s in the way between this person getting a level of balance in their lives usually starts off with food, but it doesn’t usually stay there.

Q: What are some key ways to recover and boost a metabolism that has slowed down?
A: I would say to first see if it’s food related or emotional. Depression will slow you down. Having children and becoming more sedentary slow you down. Food-wise, I would start off with a detox to clear anything that would be hindering your system. Then we would rebuild the hydrochloric acid in your stomach to speed up the metabolism. Another factor would be to look at your physical activity. Exercise is a huge component. Eating too many calories plus not exercising: that will slow you down. These are some of the things you would need to look at.

Q: How do you know if you are at your natural weight?
A: I don’t think it’s a matter of weight and what you’re looking at in the mirror, I think it’s a matter of feeling a sense of satisfaction. You’re implying that ‘natural,’ or normal is somehow determined by somebody else besides you. Natural is what you say is natural.

That’s not to get out of answering your question, but when you say natural, are you saying what the American Health Association deems an appropriate weight, or your gym teacher? Look at the people you come from. Genetics is huge. Some people just can’t be a certain size, they just won’t be. They’re spending so much time being frustrated that they’re adding another layer of imbalance to them. It’s a vicious cycle.

Q: Any tips for saving money while shopping healthy?
A: That’s easy. Learn how to cook and how to enjoy it a little bit. That’ll save you tons of money. Don’t buy prepared foods because they’re going to cost more than if you were to make it yourself. Stick to the produce section and buy whole foods. Stay away from all the processed foods, which are essentially all the middle aisles in the supermarket..

Q: I read somewhere that weight loss is about an 80 to 20 ratio. 80% being diet and then 20% being exercise. Do you have anything to say about this?
A: I think that’s close… I would agree. A lot of people think that if you just work out, then you can eat whatever you want. I would say that if you find the right diet for you you will achieve your natural weight, whether your natural weight is heavier or lighter than your current weight.

Q: Okay, last one. What are you thoughts on fat free and sugar free items.
A: Very simply? Hell no *laughs*.

First of all, I do believe in a whole foods approach. For example, the egg yolk and the white… go together. Some people try to avoid the cholesterol. Well, your body makes more cholesterol than an egg is going to give you. When you separate the yolk from the white, you body knows it’s not a whole food.

Your body knows what to do with whole foods. Fat free foods have been loaded up with sugar to taste good. Sugar free is all mostly artificial manmade chemicals that have no business being in your body. If you’re going sugar free, it doesn’t mean your sugar cravings are going to go down. They may actually spike because you’re not getting real sugar. If you’re going to switch out dessert, switch it to fresh fruit, not ‘sugar free’. Get real sugar, a whole foods sugar. Your body will appreciate it a lot more than the dessert.

Most people just don’t have a conscious idea of why they’re eating what they’re eating. They’re just eating the way they did when they were kids. And when they grew up and left home, they’ll tend to gravitate to what’s familiar to them. Even if our subconscious mind knows it’s not good for us, familiar is better than new and unknown. This is why it’s so hard to break certain habits. They’ve been deeply ingrained over the course your lifetime.

An effective health coach can help you begin to understand what those habits are and what they’re made of so you can do the work of dismantling them piece by piece. As the coach, I don’t do the work for you. I encourage you and hold you accountable for what you say you want and I keep track of everything you’ve done.

It’s all about self-awareness, self care, and maturity. The ability to  take responsibility for your own health a basic foundation of freedom.

To learn more from Jaison, check out his youtube videos, read about our first encounter, or, even better, contact him at  jaison@cleanfunliving.com and schedule a free consultation!

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

Do Modeling Agencies like Natural Photos?

Do Modeling Agencies like Natural Photos?

Someone asked this question, and, though the question yields similar answers that are contained in my model polaroid post, it can be approached in a slightly different manner.

This question can be answered in two parts. Polaroids, and portfolio. If you’re looking to be signed, these are some good things to keep in mind whether you have a portfolio or not.


Polaroids. 

Polaroids are solely for showing off what you look like without all the smoke and mirrors (aka photoshop and makeup). Clients and agents want to know what you look like and how you photograph. My Polaroid post goes into more specific depth. However, one thing that can be added to the conversation is the definition of “natural” in the fashion world these days.

When taking and submitting Polaroids to an agency, keep in mind that there is a such thing as too natural. You want good polaroids. If you’ve ever heard that your submissions don’t need to be professional, that would be wrong. There’s a clause to that statement. They don’t need to be taken by a professional, but they should look clean and somewhat professional. Because bad lighting, blemishes, and bad photos in general will not look good. I definitely went through this phase myself, early on in my modeling career. To the left is an example of a poor Polaroid on my part. It should be obvious but to someone new to the industry, as I was at the time, I thought that all the agencies wanted was to see a picture of me. This is incorrect, they wanted to see me looking fresh, in a quality photo that enhanced my assets. Poor (especially indoor, like my example) lighting and low quality images are definitely a no! Compare the lighting of the two photos in this post (see above). See the difference in quality?

For examples of a good Polaroid, visit the Polaroid post.


Portfolio.
In regards to your portfolio, natural, raw photos in should usually be the main component, unless you have very high quality images that are more styled/editorial/avante garde/etc. Things you would see in a magazine with the photography quality of a tear sheet. If it doesn’t attain that impeccable high quality, you could probably do without.

The photos in your portfolio should showcase your modeling and your look, if they’re not showcasing an advertisement or clothing. Consider them Polaroids 2.0. A little more makeup, a specific clothing style style, and high quality photography are great to have. Your photos should show emotion, mood, and your raw beauty. Naturally.

Now, consider a different definition of natural. Natural movement, and a sense of ease. Agencies look at this as well. Though, if you don’t have this, but you have the right look, agencies could still take you in for polishing.

Having high quality “natural” photos in your repertoire of images will help brand you and attract clients who are interested in your look. I think it’s safe to say that the more natural your professional images look, the cleaner the slate you become, and the easier it is for a client to see you  in their project.


What about conceptual photos?

Lastly, if you need to decide what to do with your edgy, cool pictures, that don’t really have the word “natural” attached to them, don’t fret! Supplement your portfolio with only the best of the best and aim to get really good tear sheets. While natural photos showcase you, tear sheets showcase your experience and look insanely good in your portfolio.

When in doubt, read up on Polaroids or on how to put a portfolio together.

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

Pros and Cons of Being an Agency Model

This post requires no prelude. However, this is the opinion of several experienced models and not just myself. We are all in agreement. Here are some pros and cons of being an agency represented model. 

10 PROS of Being an Agency Represented Model:

  1. You are, or should be, constantly busy with castings, test shoots, and jobs.
  2. You can make great connections and work with well known clients.
  3. You can be requested and sent to exclusive (closed) castings.
  4. If you are new, an agency is a great segway into the industry. Getting signed means, in a general sense, that you have what it takes. You are an unpolished gem.
  5. You have guidance available to you.
  6. You feel like an important asset to your agency.
  7. Your agency handles all transactions as well as your schedule. You don’t have to worry about prioritizing if you’re bad at those things nor do you have to worry about difficult clients.
  8. An agency helps you build an image and promotes that image to clients.
  9. Your agency is legally bound to the same contract that you are. This can be to your mutual benefit (it could also be considered a con).
  10. Lets face it, it can feel good to feel legitimized by an agency!

Now, lets get into the cons. The nitty gritty. Maybe I’m biased, but a lot of these can cancel out some of the pros. I know many other models who have had identical experiences.

10 CONS of Being an Agency Represented Model:

  1. Your paychecks are less predictable than if you were freelancing and managing your own invoicing because you are not in control. You have to continuously ask and rely on your agency for accounting statuses. You may not receive the money (at all, or in a timely fashion) unless you fight for it.
  2. There is a commission taken out of your paychecks.
  3. The image your agency promotes for you may be specific and limiting to your abilities.
  4. You will be encouraged to loose weight and be under regular scrutiny.
  5. Lets face it, some bookers can be intimidating. Nothing personal!
  6. You do not have the freedom of a freelance model. Freedom is good when you know how to utilize it!
  7. Extra work and modeling gigs are discouraged, especially in New York. These agencies like keep you busy and keep you for themselves!
  8. You have little to no control over your schedule and you don’t know when you may be asked to go somewhere.
  9. Your growth as a model may be hindered by relying on an agency to handle your career.
  10. You are tied by a legal contract and a specified amount of time with your agency, generally 2 years.

In conclusion, it is best to see for yourself! Measure your successes, roadblocks, and downfalls during your journey as a model decide which route you prefer: agency, or freelance? Share your thoughts below! Do you find your experiences similar? Different? Do you have anything to add? Comments, please!

As for myself, I am currently choosing the freelance route and I’m loving it! I still do consider agency offers that come my way. However, for the time being, I am a New York freelancer and available for hire! (Email me for rates if you’re interested! My portfolio may be viewed in the uppermost navigation bar. I suggest checking out editorial first!). If you would like to learn more about what it is like to be a freelance model, check out Sierra Mckenzie’s Freelance Models blog!

Be fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

10 Reasons to Hire a Holistic Health Coach

In a world of diets and dietitians full of different opinions and solutions–that may or may not be giving conflicting messages–Jaison Greene, CHC, AADP, certified holistic coach, and member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, takes what I believe to be a unique approach to nutrition.

I came up with the idea to find and interview a dietician through the desire to spread knowledge of health to my peers as I travel my own path to healthful knowledge. I found a true gem in Jaison and would recommend him to anyone, after only just one meeting. One piece of news is that he actually prefers virtual consultation due to ease, as well as the comfort his clients find there. So, you don’t need to be in New York if you’re seeking someone of Jaison’s level of expertise!

Jaison and I chatted for a good hour and I learned about many topics from orthorexia to detox cleanses to how blood type can present health challenges. I had no idea blood type played a role in diet! I didn’t even know my blood type.

I learned about these things and the one thing that stood out the most was how put together Jaison seemed. Jaison started his journey to healthy living in his early thirties, driven by his mother and sister, who had both been diagnosed with breast cancer. After realizing the power of healthy eating and biannual detox cleanses, he read up, studied, and earned his credentials. Now he is a certified holistic health coach.

The other notable thing that stood out to me was the way Jaison approaches his profession. He focuses on healthy LIVING. Not diets. Not fads. He focuses on YOU and your uniqueness, all the way down to your particular work environment.

My journey to healthful living has been rough, as my career relies on a slim body, and I’ve seen the damage it does firsthand. Continually striving for a skinnier and skinnier body is not a way of living for anyone. But developing a healthy lifestyle can be very rewarding and can give you just what you need, for anyone, no matter what your lifestyle demands.


What is a holistic health coach?

As a holistic health coach, Jaison Greene doesn’t not focus merely on diet. He analyzes many lifestyle factors into your overall health. So the term “dietician” is not really fair, because he is more that just a dietician. He focuses on two food sources: Primary foods and Secondary foods. Secondary is what you eat. Primary is what nourishes you. This includes in terms of relationships, spirituality, and physical activity.

So, if you’re looking to drop a quick few pounds (which I’ve been there, I do not suggest this route at all!), you’re in the wrong place. If you are looking for balance and healthiness, but you need a little nudging and encouragement along the way, you’re in the right place!


10 Reasons to Hire a Holistic Health Coach

  1. They are more encompassing than regular dietitians. 
    As mentioned before, a holistic health coach is more than a dietitian. One realization I would love everyone to consider is your health is not just diet and food, it is your lifestyle and all the factors that surround you. Everything you do and feel, every one of your interactions, make a play on your health.
  2. The approach is unique and modern.
    This is a much more innovative way to tackle your health and lifestyle, by looking at primary and secondary “foods.” In hiring a holistic health coach, you are conveying your commitment to yourself and your desire to attain the next level of health.
  3. They help you attain your goals.
    Through helping you discover the root of your issues, a coach will help you accomplish your goals and more.
  4. You will have more insight on how your relationships play into your health.
    Are you in a bad relationship with those around you? Is your work depleting your energy? These are some things you may not be thinking about fixing. You may not realize how interconnected everything is.
  5. Even “healthy” people may still be unhappy and may not fully understand how their actions affect their bodies.
    Are you orthorexic (too strict with what foods you eat and critical of everyone else’s food, too)? Too lenient? Are you making healthy changes for what is right for you? Do you even know what foods are right for you? Maybe, maybe not. But one or more of these unanswered questions might be keeping you stuck and unhappy where you are now.
  6. You will have support to keep you on track.
    Don’t get me wrong, you have to do the work. You will discover things about yourself. However, you’ll have support, positive reinforcement, and guidance along the way.
  7. No one knows everything.
    Even just one consultation will be a beneficial learning experience. I learned much more than I thought I would. And some of the knowledge was completely unexpected.
  8. Your questions and concerns will be answered.
    It’s a different approach to health, but concerns such as weight loss, what to be eating, etc, will be addressed.
  9. The help you are getting is personalized.
    Each session is completely different than the next. While dietitians can advocate for one diet or another, this will be customized to fit your needs and match to the lifestyle you already have in place.
  10. Avoid cancerous habits.
    As you address the root of your problems, overall health, and different habits, there are ways to incorporate ways of prevent cancerous cells from growing. Merely diet and exercise may not be enough.

Jaison Green may be contacted for a free consultation at jaison@cleanfunliving.com
I recently met with him a second time, and got some answers to some good health-related questions. If you’re not convinced now, you might be after a little Q&A!

Be Fierce!!
Briauna Mariah (:

Open Dive Scuba with KCD

**UPDATE: Unfortunately, KCD has gone out of business after a long, successful run in Brooklyn. While there are many other places to learn how to dive in NYC, it’s very sad to see Mia and her business close. I wish her all the luck & much success in the next chapter of her scuba diving career and everyone who was involved with KCD. Mia was kind enough to give me some really good deals with extra gear, so now I own my own wetsuit! Thank you for everything & the great experiences, Mia!**

This is perhaps the final recap of my scuba diving adventure. If you somehow landed on the page without reading the rest of the story, start here. Or to view the previous post, read my scuba lessons day 4! It seems like this is a story of how I came to equalize my ears. Each day at the pool equalizing became easier and easier and now, at the bottom of a lake at 40 feet I hardly had any problems at all! The most help of all came from my dive instructor, Mia, who helped me tackle my setback one step at a time.

Onto the next coolest thing. Mia, myself, and one other student, a very funny guy from Russia with some interesting things to say, hopped in a truck today and drove to Pennsylvania. Today is especially hard not to share my adventures with David especially since he thinks I’m working in New Jersey all day. Nonetheless, the adventures came out rather promising. During our final pool session two days ago, Mia made sure we were ready for open water and that we operated well at the bottom of the pool.

I’ll have to admit, the idea of the open water made me a bit nervous, but it has proven to be a lot more fun than I expected. This morning, over breakfast, Mia explained everything we would be doing for each dive for today. There would be no surprises. We briefed, pre-planned, and finally let the cold cold water slowly seep into our wet suits.

Once you get past the standard risk procedures, which is really the “meat and potatoes” of our dive lessons, it really is fun from there. We did a lot of review today, but with the added factor of deeper, colder, natural waters. Review such as removing our masks and clearing them of water, simulating running out of air, emergency ascents, and buoyancy–which isn’t so much an emergency skill, but a required skill one needs to master.

An interesting question came up from my mother as I explained some of today to her. Do you kick to go down or what? Which made me realize, even I didn’t know what a BC (buoyancy compensator) was before I started these lessons. It seems that it isn’t until you’re learning the ways of diving that scuba diving really makes sense and holes in your knowledge are filled. Let me give you an idea of how one of the most important skills in scuba, obtaining neutral buoyancy, works.

When you’re diving, you’ll be wearing some form of BC, which is inflated with air while you are on the surface, keeping you from sinking with your weights on. You need the weights to go down because you’ll be very buoyant with your wet suits and such, even with a heavy tank on your back. I needed 16 pounds on me just to be able to get down into the water!

Once you’ve let the air out of your BC and you begin to sink, something interesting happens. The more you descend, the faster you descend. This is because the air that is keeping you neutrally buoyant compresses, so you sink faster. The opposite is true when you ascend. You have to let expanding air out of the BC to prevent from shooting up too fast. The idea is a slow and steady descent as well as ascent.

There was quite a hilarious BC-related moment during one of my open dives. Mia was passing the responsibility on to us as students to ascend while watching our depth and to be able to control our safety stop. Knowing that air expands, once you get to your depth, you’re going to keep going unless you let air out.

During the ascent, I saw Mia stop and seemingly descend below me. In mid-water, movement is hard to differentiate. What was really happening was that I was still ascending. I remembered the BC in time, stopped for my safety stop, and realized my buddy was still going up, up and up. He forgot about letting air out and flailed his arms and legs trying to go down. The air in his BC continued to expand so he was helplessly buoyant, flailing all the way to the surface. It was a comical image. This is the same guy who cut in front of me somewhere around 30 feet, frantically pointing at a rather grey fish. He was so excited to see that fish that he decided to chase excitedly after it. Imagine a man in scuba gear pointing and swimming towards a fish he had no chance of catching. I tried not to die–literally–laughing.

After our dives, we stopped at a coffee shop and talked about what we could improve upon. The buoyancy is something I could improve upon for sure, and I look forward to it. Mia also pointed out we could have both improved upon our buddy system. And I couldn’t agree more. Buddies are extremely important in scuba diving. They provide security on many levels. I am very excited to work on diving with my unassuming buddy, my boyfriend, who happens to live in Monterrey, such a gorgeous beach with ample wildlife.
On that note, I will continue to ‘play dumb’ with him until Christmas, when I tell him his surprise!

As I mentioned before, I was nervous about my open water dives. But today I realized that I’m in this for a reason and that I’m going to love scuba diving more and more. I can attest to its addictive qualities.

I have a lot of thanks and appreciation for Mia and my new dive shop, KCD!

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:

Kings County Scuba Lessons: Day 4

**UPDATE: Unfortunately, KCD has gone out of business after a long, successful run in Brooklyn. While there are many other places to learn how to dive in NYC, it’s very sad to see Mia and her business close. I wish her all the luck & much success in the next chapter of her scuba diving career and everyone who was involved with KCD. Mia was kind enough to give me some really good deals with extra gear, so now I own my own wetsuit! Thank you for everything & the great experiences, Mia!**

7 Reasons Dive Shops are Totally Awesome

Today we went over many safety protocols under the water. I equalized my ears quicker than before, but going back down again was difficult. Next week, I should show even more improvement!

I’m actually having a lot of fun on these dive class nights. Walking into a dive shop is like walking into the antechamber of the underwater world. They give the tangible feeling of a fantasy world you know quite a bit about, but have never accessed and you realize that this fantasy world is going to be a lot more fantastical than you first imagined. And all the tools it takes to get there is displayed on every rack and wall in sight. I’ve always thought that scuba diving was relatively simple. Well, on some levels it is. But, there are many precautions, procedures, and techniques to remember. The amount of equipment required is beyond what my uninformed mind thought originally, and that makes this underwater world so much more special. When you scuba dive, you become a visitor, who, frankly, doesn’t really belong there! You’re a fish out of water, so to speak.

So, what makes dive shops so cool?

  1. The instructors there have seen so much more than you have. The stories you’ll hear are very entertaining.
    -They talk about underwater UFOS on a night dive that turned out to be a submarine
    -And they talk about ice diving. Carving a hole into a frozen lake to take a ‘quick dip.’
  2. They have all the pictures to prove it.
    -I have yet to be on an open water dive, but I guarantee you that the experience is a hundred times more amazing than the pictures.
  3. The instructors at Kings County Divers, are extremely fun and friendly.
  4. They carry basically any of your scuba/underwater needs.
    -Even cheap underwater cameras.
  5. You can learn a lot in a dive shop:
    -About what’s ‘current’ in the underwater realm. (Ha! Get that pun?)
    -What resorts to go to.
    -And that sharks really aren’t so dangerous.
  6. They have every scuba-related class you could think of. And, lastly,
  7. They usually stand out on their block, decked out in cool stuff. Nobody would think that there is a scuba shop in Brooklyn!

However, there is a scuba shop in Brooklyn–it’s waiting just for you and it’s a lot of fun! I anxiously look forward to my final dive class and then, the open water!

Scuba lessons day 3. (previous)
Scuba lessons day 5. (next)

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (: